Skip to main content

Full text of "Sons and lovers"

See other formats



pdmpass Book 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2010 




The Rainbow 

Women in Love 

The Lost Girl 

Aaron's Rod 


Lady Chatterley's Lover 

Four Short Novels (Love among the Haystacks, 
The Ladybird, The Fox, The Captain's Doll) 


Twilight in Italy 

Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious and 

Fantasia of the Unconscious 

Sea and Sardinia 

Studies in Classic American Literature 


Etruscan Places 

Sex, Literature, and Censorship 



The Portable D. H. Lawrence 

Selected Poems 

The Complete Short Stories of D. H. Lawrence 

Selected Literary Criticism 

The Collected Letters of D. H. Lawrence 

The Complete Poems of D. H. Lawrence 

The Complete Plays of D. H. Lawrence 

Phoenix II 


Sons and Lovers 






SBN 670-65764-6 (hardbound) 
SBN 670-0003 7-x (paperbound) 















X CLARA 252 











"The Bottoms" succeeded to "Hell Row". Hell Row was ^^^'*^^ 
block of thatched, bulging cottages that stood by the brook- 
side on Greenhill Lane. There lived the colliersjaiho worked 
in the little gin-pits two fields away. The brook ran under the 
alder trees, scarcely soiled by these small mines, whose coal ^^^T 
was drawn to the surface by donkeys that plodded wearily in '"^^^>'^'^^^"*-^ 
2i circle round a gin^^nd all over the countryside were these ^^*T**' ^ 
same pits, some ofwhich had been worked in the time of J^r*^-^^-^ 
Charles II, the few colliers and the donkeys burrowing down ^l^uu»A^ 
like ants into the earth, making queer mounds and little black 
places among the corn-fields and the meadows. And the 
cottages of these coal-miners, in blocks and pairs here and 
there, together with odd farms and homes of the stockingers, 
straying over the parish, formed the village of Bestwood. 

Then, some sixty years ago, a sudden change took place. 
The gin-pits were elbowed aside by the large mines of the 
financiers. The coal and iron field of Nottinghamshire and 
Derbyshire was discovered. Carston, Waite and Co. appeared. 
Amid tremendous excitement. Lord Palmerston formally opened 
the company's first mine at Spinney Park, on the edge of Sher- 
wood Forest. 

About this time the notorious Hell Row, which through 
growing old had acquired an evil reputation, was burned down, 
and much dirt was cleansed away. 

Carston, Waite & Co. found they had struck on a good thing, 
so, down the valleys of the brooks from Selby and Nuttall, 
new mines were sunk, until soon there were six pits working. 
From Nuttall, high up on the sandstone among the woods, the 
railway ran, past the ruined priory of the Carthusians and past 
Robin Hood's Well, down to Spinney Park, then on to Minton, 
a large mine among corn-fields; from Minton across the farm- 
lands of the valleyside to Bunker's Hill, branching off there, 
and running north to Beggarlee and Selby, that looks over at 
Crich and the hills of Derbyshire : six mines like black studs 


o n the countrysid e, linked by a loop of fine chain, the railway. 

lo accommoaaie the regiments of miners, Carston, Waite 
and Co. built the Squares, great quadrangles of dwellings on 
the hillside of Bestwood, and then, in the brook valley, on the 
site of Hell Row, they erected the Bottoms. 

The Bottoms consisted of six blocks of miners' dwellings, 
two rows of three, like the dots on a blank-six domino, and 
twelve houses in a block. This double row of dwellings sat 
at the foot of the rather sharp slope from Bestwood, and looked 
out, from the attic windows at least, on the slow climb of the 
valley towards Selby. 

The houses themselves were substantial and very decent. 
One could walk all round, seeing little front gardens with 
auriculas and saxifrage in the shadow of the bottom block, 
sweet-wdlliams and pinks in the sunny top block; seeing neat 
front windows, little porches, little privet hedges, and dormer 
windows for the attics. But that was outside; that was the view 
on to the uninhabited parlours of all the colliers' wives. The 
dwelling-room, the kitchen, was at the back of the house, facing 
inward between the blocks, looking at a scrubby back garden, 
and then at the ash-pits. And between the rows, between the 
long lines of ash-pits, went the alley, where the children played 
and the women gossiped and the men smoked. So, the actual 
conditions of living in the Bottoms, that was so well built and 
that looked so nice, were quite unsavoury because people must 
live in the kitchen, and the kitchens opened on to that nasty 
alley of ash-pits. 

Mrs. Morel was not anxious to move into the Bottoms, which 
was already twelve years old and on the downward path, when 
she descended to it from Bestwood. But it was the best she 
could do. Moreover, she had an end house in one of the top 
blocks, and thus had only one neighbour; on the other side an 
extra strip of garden. And, having an end house, she enjoyed a 
l ^d of aristo cracy among the other wojuen-O f the "between " 
houses, becatrsriTer rent was^ftve shiTlmgs and sixpence instead 
'^^of^VTshillings a week. But this superiority in station was not 
much consolation to Mrs. Morel. 

She was thirty-one years old, and had been married eight 

years. A rather small woman, of delicate mould but resolute^ 

Rearing, she sTirSntr^ little from ~th€"mstcontaotvvatHthe 

BottomT'^omen. She came down in the July, and in the 

September expected her third baby. 


Her husband was a miner. They had only been in their new 
home three weeks when the wakes, or fair, began. Morel, she 
knew, was sure to make a holiday of it. He went off early on 
the Monday morning, the day of the fair. The two children 
were highly excited. William, a boy of seven, fled off immedi- 
ately after breakfast, to prowl round the wakes ground, leaving 
Annie, who was only five, to whine all morning to go also. 
Mrs. Morel did her work. She scarcely knew her neighbours 
yet, and knew no one with whom to trust the little girl. So she 
promised to take her to the wakes after dinner. 

William appeared at half-past twelve. He was a very active 
lad, fair-haired, freckled, with a touch of the Dane or Norwegian 
about him. 

"Can I have my dinner, mother?" he cried, rushing in with 
his cap on. " 'Cause it begins at half-past one, the man says so." 

"You can have your dinner as soon as it's done," replied the 

"Isn't it done?" he cried, his blue eyes staring at her in 
indignation. "Then I'm goin' be-out it." 

"You'll do nothing of the sort. It will be done in five minutes. 
It is only half-past twelve." 

"They'll be beginnin'," the boy half cried, half shouted. 

"You won't die if they do," said the mother. "Besides, it's 
only half-past twelve, so you've a full hour." 

The lad began hastily to lay the table, and directly the three 
sat down. They were eating batter-pudding and jam, when 
the boy jumped off his chair and stood perfectly still. Some 
distance away could be heard the first small braying of a merry- 
go-round, and the tooting of a horn. His face quivered as he 
looked at his mother. 

"I told you ! " he said, running to the dresser for his cap. 

"Take your pudding in your hand — and it's only five past 
one, so you were wrong — you haven't got your twopence," 
cried the mother in a breath. 

The boy came back, bitterly disappointed, for his twopence, 
then went off without a word. 

"I want to go, I want to go," said Annie, beginning to cry. 

"Well, and you shall go, whining, vdzzening little stick!" 
said the mother. And later in the afternoon she trudged up the 
hill under the tall hedge with her child. The hay was gathered 
from the fields, and cattle were turned on to the eddish. It was 
warm, peaceful. 


Mrs. Morel did not like the wakes. There were two sets of 
horses, one going by steam, one pulled round by a pony; three 
organs were grinding, and there came odd cracks of pistol-shots, 
fearful screeching of the cocoanut man's rattle, shouts of the 
Aunt Sally man, screeches from the peep-show lady. The 
mother perceived her son gazing enraptured outside the Lion 
Wallace booth, at the pictures of this famous lion that had 
killed a negro and maimed for life two white men. She left 
him alone, and went to get Annie a spin of toffee. Presently 
the lad stood in front of her, wildly excited. 

"You never said you was coming — isn't the' a lot of things? 
— that lion's killed three men — I've spent my tuppence — an' 
look here." 

He pulled from his pocket two egg-cups, with pink moss- 
roses on them. 

"I got these from that stall where y'ave ter get them marbles 
in them holes. An' 1 got these two in two goes — 'aepenny a go 
— they've got moss-roses on, look here. I wanted these." 

She knew he wanted them for her. 

"H'm!" she said, pleased. "They are pretty!" 

"Shall you carry 'em, 'cause I'm frightened o' breakin' 'em?" 

He was tipful of excitement now she had come, led her about 
the ground, showed her everything. Then, at the peep-show, she 
explained the pictures, in a sort of story, to which he listened 
as if spellbound. He would not leave her. All the time he 
stuck close to her, bristling with a small boy's pride of her. 
For no other woman looked such a lady as she did, in her 
little black bonnet and her cloak. She smiled when she saw 
women she knew. When she was tired she said to her son : 

"Well, are you coming now, or later?" 

"Are you goin' a'ready?" he cried, his face full of reproach. 

"Already? It is past four, / know." 

"What are you goin' a'ready for?" he lamented. 

"You needn't come if you don't want," she said. 

And she went slowly away with her little girl, whilst her son 
stood watching her, cut to the heart to let her go, and yet un- 
able to leave the wakes. As she crossed the open ground in 
front of the Moon and Stars she heard men shouting, and 
smelled the beer, and hurried a little, thinking her husband 
was probably in the bar. 

At about half-past six her son came home, tired now, rather 
pale, and somewhat wretched. He was miserable, though he 

. i^JS-^^^-^hr^ 



did not know it, because he had let her go ..aloner Since she 
had gone, he had not enjoyed his wakes. 

"Has my dad been?" he asked. 

"No," said the mother. 

"He's helping to wait at the Moon and Stars. I seed him 
through that black tin stuff wi' holes in, on the window, wi' 
his sleeves rolled up." 

"Ha!" exclaimed the mother shortly. "He's got no money. 
An' he'll be satisfied if he gets his 'lowance, whether they give 
him more or not." 

When the light was fading, and Mrs. Morel could see no more 
to sew, she rose and went to the door. Everywhere was the 
sound of excitement, the restlessness of the holiday, that at 
last infected her. She went out into the side garden. Women 
were coming home from the wakes, the children hugging a 
white lamb with green legs, or a wooden horse. Occasionally 
a man lurched past, almost as full as he could carry. Some- 
times a good husband came along with his family, peacefully. 
But usually the women and children were alone. The stay-at- 
home mothers stood gossiping at the corners of the alley, as 
the twilight sank, folding their arms under their white aprons. 

Mrs. Morel was alone, but she was used to it. Her son and 
her little girl slept upstairs; so, it seemed, her home was there 
behind her, fixed and stable. But she felt wretched with the 
coming child. The world seemed a dreary place, where nothing 
else would happen for her — at least until William grew up. But 
for herself, nothing but this dreary endurance — till the children 
grew up. And the children ! She could not afford to have this 
third. She did not want it. The father was serving beer in a 
public house, swilling himself drunk. She despised him, and 
was tied to him. This coming child was too much for her. If 
it were not for William and Annie, she was sick of it, the 
struggle with poverty and ugliness and meanness. 

She went into the front garden, feeling too heavy to take 
herself out, yet unable to stay indoors. The heat suffocated her. 
And looking ahead, the prospect of her life made her feel as if 
she were buried alive. 

The front garden was a small square with a privet hedge. 
There she stood, trying to soothe herself with the scent of 
flowers and the fading, beautiful evening. Opposite her small 
gate was the stile th at led uphill, under the tall hedge between 
the burning /glow of the cut pastures. The sky overhead 



throbbed and^ulsed^thUght^The glow sank quickly off the 
field; the earth and tKe^lYP^gp ^rri n kprj ^hi ^ As it grew dark, 
a ruddy glare came out on the hilltop, and out of the glare the 
diminished commotion of the fair. 

Sometimes, down the trough of darkness formed by the path 
under the hedges, men came lurching home. One young man 
lapsed into a run down the steep bit that ended the hill, and 
went with a crash into the stile. Mrs. Morel shuddered. He 
picked himself up, swearing viciously, rather pathetically, as if 
he thought the stile had wanted to hurt him. 

She went indoors, wondering if things were never going to 
alter. She was beginning by now to realise that they would not. 
She seemed so far away from her girlhood, she wondered if it 
were the same person walking heavily up the back garden at 
the Bottoms as had run so lightly up the breakwater at Sheer- 
ness ten years before. 

"What have / to do with it?" she said to herself. "What 
have I to do with all this ? Even the child I am going to have ! 
It doesn't seem as if / were taken into account." 

Sometimes life takes hold of one, carries the body along, 
accomplishes one's history, and yet is not real, but leaves one- 
self as it were slurred over. 

"I wait," Mrs. Morel said to herself — "1 wait, and what 1 
wait for can never come." 

Then she straightened the kitchen, lit the lamp, mended the 
fire, looked out the washing for the next day, and put it to 
soak. After which she sat down to her sewing. Through the 
long hours her needle flashed regularly through the stuff. 
Occasionally she sighed, moving to relieve herself. And all the 
time she was thinking how to make the most of what she had. 
for the children's sakes. 

At half-past eleven her husband came. His cheeks were very 
red and very shiny above his black moustache. His head nodded 
slightly. He was pleased with himself. 

"Oh! Oh! waitin' for me, lass? I've bin 'elpin' Anthony, 
an' what's think he's gen me? Nov;^ b'r a lousy hae'f-crown, 
an' that's ivry penny " 

"He thinks you've made the rest up in beer," she said shortly. 

"An' I 'aven't — that I 'aven't. You b'lieve me, I've 'ad very 
little this day, I have an' all." His voice went tender. "Here, 
an' I browt thee a bit o' brandysnap, an' a cocoanut for th' 
children." He laid the gingerbread and the cocoanut, a hairy 


object, on the table. "Nay, tha niver said thankyer for nowt 
r thy life, did ter?" 

As a compromise, she picked up the cocoanut and shook it, 
to see if it had any milk. 

"It's a good 'un, you may back yer life o' that. I got it fra' 
Bill Hodgkisson. 'Bill,' 1 says, 'tha non wants them three nuts, 
does ter? Arena ter for gi'ein' me one for my bit of a lad an' 
wench?' '1 ham, Walter, my lad,' 'e says; 'ta'e which on 'em 
ter's a mind.' An' so 1 took one, an' thanked 'im. 1 didn't like 
ter shake it afore 'is eyes, but 'e says, 'Tha'd better ma'e sure 
it's a good un, Walt.' An' so, yer see, 1 knowed it was. He's a 
nice chap, is Bill Hodgkisson, 'e's a nice chap!" 

"A man will part with anything so long as he's drunk, and 
you're drunk along with him," said Mrs. Morel. 

"Eh, tha mucky little 'ussy, who's drunk, I sh'd like ter 
know?" said Morel. He was extraordinarily pleased with him- 
self, because of his day's helping to wait in the Moon and Stars. 
He chattered on. 

Mrs. Morel, very tired, and sick of his babble, went to bed as 
quickly as possible, while he raked the fire. 

Mrs. Morel came of a good old burgher family, famous 
independents who had fought with Colonel Hutchinson, and 
who remained stout Congregationalists. Her grandfather had 
gone bankrupt in the lace-market at a time when so many lace- 
manufacturers were ruined in Nottingham. Her father, George 
Coppard, was an engineer — a large, handsome, haughty man, 
proud of his fair skin and blue eyes, but more proud still of 
his integrity. Gertrude resembled her mother in her small 
Jiliildj^ut her temper, proud and unyielding, she had from 

George Coppard was bitterly galled by his own poverty. He 

became foreman of the engineers in the dockyard at Sheerness. 

Mrs. Morel — Gertrude — was the second daughter. She favoured 

her mother, lovprj he r mother best of all; but she had the 

I Coppards' clear, defiant blue eyes and" their broad brow. She 

1 remembered to have jiatpfi hpr father's over bearing^ 

\ towards her gentle^ humoron <; Idnrlly -souled^nmti^ She re- 

Vlnembered runnmg over the breakwater at Sheerness and finding 

\ the boat. Sh^ remembered to have been petted and flattered by 

I all the men when she had gone to the dockyard, for she was a 

\delicate, rather proud child. She remembered the funny old 

mistress, whose assistant she had become, whom she had loved 


to help in the private school. And she still had the Bible that 
John Field had given her. She used to walk home from chapel 
with John Field when she was nineteen. He was the son of a 
well-to-do tradesman, had been to college in London, and was 
to devote himself to business. 

She could always recall in detail a September Sunday after- 
noon, when they had sat under the vine at the back of her 
father's house. The sun came through the chinks of the vine- 
leaves and made beautiful patterns, like a lace scarf, falling on 
her and on him. Some of the leaves were clean yellow, like 
yellow flat flowers. 

"Now sit still," he had cried. "Now your hair, I don't know 
what it is like ! It's a bright as coppe r and gold, as red as bjurnt^ 
Xopper, and it has gold threads whe re Th £,.5ttf^''^^np ^ "ti i t~ 
^n^SlTtfei r ^ayin g it HS--toa¥ftr--¥oTiF mother calls it mouse- 

SRe~had met his brilliant eyes, but her clear face scarcely 
showed the elation which rose within her. 

"But you say you don't like business," she pursued. 

"1 don't. 1 hate it!" he cried hotly. 

"And you would like to go into the ministry," she half 

"1 should. 1 should love it, if 1 thought I could make a first- 
rate preacher." 

"Then why don't you — why don't you?" Her voice rang 
with defiance. "If / were a man, nothing would stop me." 

She held her head erect. He was rather timid before her. 

"But my father's so stiff-necked. He means to put me into 
the business, and 1 know he'll do it." 

"But if you're a man?" she had cried. 

"Being a man isn't everything," he replied, frowning with 
puzzled helplessness. 

Now, as she moved about her work at the Bottoms, with 
some experience of what being a man meant, she knew that it 
was not everything. 

At twenty, owing to her health, she had left Sheerness. Her 
father had retired home to Nottingham. John Field's father had 
been ruined; the son had gone as a teacher in Norwood. She 
did not hear of him until, two years later, she made determined 
inquiry. He had married his landlady, a woman of forty, a 
widow with property. 

And still Mrs. Morel preserved John Field's Bible. She did not 


now believe him to be Well, she understood pretty well 

what he might or might not have been. So she preserved his 
Bible, and kept his memory intact in her heart, for her own 
sake. To her dying day, for thirty-five years, she did not speak 
of him. 

When she was twenty-three years old, she met, at a Christmas 
party, a young man from the Ere wash Valley. Morel was then 
twenty-seven years old. He was well set-up, erect, and very 
smart. H e had wavy blac k hair that shoife againfcind a Vigorous" 
' biacK Deard thatiiad never been shaved. Hg-gg ter^eTe ruddy,' 
and Kisre ^p^oist mouth was noticeable ^ecause he laughed^q 
often and solieartiiy7"''He°Bad that rare tEmg, a jich, ri nging 
lltrgJrr ^rtrtrdg'€tTppard had watched him, fascinated. He was 
loTuil of colour and animation, his voice ran so easily into 
comic grotesque, he was so ready and so pleasant with every- 
body. Her own father had a rich fund of humour, but it was 
satiric. This man's was different : soft, non-intellectual, wapn, 
a kind of gambolling.^£<l.,tj^,^ ^4^.*^.^ ,aJ: A.r-.^JU - A^/^k^ ^ -^ 

She hersellf was opposite. She had a curious, receptive nmid Cx^^rPL 
which found much pleasure and amusement in listening to ^jj ^ 
other folk. Sh6l ^as devei -tfi leading folk lo ^'^Tk. She loved "/ 
'ideas, and was considered very intellectual. W hat she liked most 
of all was an argument on religion or p hilosophy or politics ^ 
with some edti^^ied man. X liii^^he did not otten enjoy. So 
^she always had people tell her about themselves, finding her 
pleasure so. 

In her person she was rather small and delicate, with a large 
brow, and dr opping bunch es of brown silk curls. Her blue eyes 
were very s traigT it^Jionest,^nd searching^he had tfieTeautiful 
hands of the Co'ppards. Jier dress was always subdued. She 
'wore ^dark'^Mu^' sflk^r'vvatlr^ a pecuU ai silv e r c hatn -of-^rtwr 
scallops. This, and a heavy brooch of twisted gold, was her 
only ornament. She was still perfectly intact , deeply relig ious, 
and full of beautiful candour. ^' — ~=_=^ 

"^WalteFT^orerseemed melted away before her. She was to 
the miner that thing of mystery and fascination, a lady. When 
she spoke to him, it was with a southern pronounciation and 
a purity of English which thrilled him to hear. She watched 
him. He danced well, as if it were natural and joyous in him to 
dance. His grandfather was a French refugee who had married 
an English barmaid — if it had been a marriage. Gertrude 
Coppard watched the young miner as he danced, a certain 


subtle exultation like glamour in his movement, and his face 
the flower of his body, ruddy, with tumbled black hair, and 
laughing alike whatever partner he bowed above. She thought 
him rather wonderful, never having met anyone like him. Her 
father was to her the type of all men. And GeQi ££ Coppard, 
proud in his bearing, handsome, and rather bitter; who preferred 
theology in reading, and who drew near in sympathy only to 
one man, the Apostle Paul; who was harsh in government, and 
in familiarity ironic; who ignored, ^ U sensuous pleasure: — he 
was very different from the miner. Gertrude herseTTWa^ rather 
contemptuous of dancing; she had not the slightest inclination 
towards that accomplishment, and had never learned even a 
Roger de Coverley. She was puritan, like her father, high- 
minded, and really stern. Therefore the dusky, golden soft- 
ness of this man's sensuous flame of life, that flowed off his 
flesh like the flame from a candle, not baffled and gripped into 
incandescence by thought and spirit as her life was, seemed to 
her something wonderful, beyond her. 

He came and bowed above her. A warmth radiated through 
her as if she had drunk wine. 

"Now do come and have this one wi' me," he said caressively. 
"It's easy, you know. I'm pining to see you dance." 

She had told him before she could not dance. She glanced at 
his humility and smiled. Her smile was very beautiful. It 
moved the man so that he forgot everything. 

"No, 1 won't dance," she said softly. Her words came clean 
and ringing. 

Not knowing what he was doing — he often did the right thing 
by instinct — he sat beside her, inclining reverentially. 

"But you mustn't miss your dance," she reproved. 

"Nay, I don't want to dance that — it's not one as I care 

"Yet you invited me to it." 

He laughed very heartily at this. 

"1 never thought o' that. Tha'rt not long in taking the curl 
out of me." 

It was her turn to laugh quickly. 

"You don't look as if you'd come much uncurled," she said. 

"I'm like a pig's tail, I curl because I canna help it," he 
laughed, rather boisterously. 

"And you are a miner!" she exclaimed in surprise. 

"Yes. I went down when I was ten." 


She looked at him in wondering dismay. 

"When you were ten! And wasn't it very hard?" she asked. 

"You soon get used to it. You Kve like th' mice, an' you pop 
out at night to see what's going on." 

"It makes me feel blind," she frowned. 

"Like a moudiwarp!" he laughed. "Yi, an' there's some 
chaps as does go round like moudiwarps." He thrust his face 
forward in the blind, snout-like way of a mole, seeming to 
sniff and peer for direction. "They dun though!" he protested 
naively. "Tha niver seed such a way they get in. But tha 
mun let me ta'e thee down some time, an' tha can see for 
thy sen." 

She looked at him, startled. This was a new tract of life 
suddenly opened before her. She realised the life of the miners, 
hundreds of them toiling below earth and coming up at evening. 
He seemed to her noble. He risked his life daily, and with gaiety. 
She looked at him, with a touch of appeal in her pure humility. 

"Shouldn't ter like it?" he asked tenderly. " 'Appen not, it 
'ud dirty thee." 

She had never been "thee'd" and "thou'd" before. 

The next Christmas they were married, and for three months 
she was perfectly happy : for six months she was very happy. 

He had signed the pledge, and wore the blue ribbon of a tee- 
totaller : he was nothing if not showy. They lived, she thought, 
in his own house. It was small, but convenient enough, and 
quite nicely furnished, with solid, worthy stuff that suited her 
honest soul. The women, her neighbours, were rather foreign to 
her, and Morel's mother and sisters were apt to sneer at her 
ladylike ways. But she could perfectly well live by herself, so 
long as she had her husband close. 

Sometimes, when she herself wearied of love-talk, she tried 
to open her heart seriously to him. She saw him listen defer- 
entially, but without understanding. This killed her efforts at a 
finer intimacy, and she had flashes of fear. Sometimes he was 
restless of an evening : it was not enough for him just to be near 
her, she realised. She was glad when he set himself to little jobs. 

He was a remarkably handy man — could make or mend any- 
thing. So she would say: 

"I do like that coal-rake of your mother's — ^it is small and 

"Does ter, my wench? Well, I made that, so I can make 
thee one!" 


"What! why, it's a steel one!" 

"An' what if it is! Tha s'lt ha'e one very similar, if not 
exactly same." 

She did not mind the mess, nor the hammering and noise. He 
was busy and happy. 

But in the seventh month, when she was brushing his Sunday 
coat, she felt papers in the breast pocket, and, seized with a 
sudden curiosity, took them out to read. He very rarely wore 
the frock-coat he was married in : and it had not occurred to 
her before to feel curious concerning the papers. They were 
the bills of the household furniture, still unpaid. 

"Look here," she said at night, after he was washed and had 
had his dinner. "I found these in the pocket of your wedding- 
coat. Haven't you settled the bills yet?" 

"No. 1 haven't had a chance." 

"But you told me all was paid. 1 had better go into Notting- 
ham on Saturday and settle them. I don't like sitting on another 
man's chairs and eating from an unpaid table." 

He did not answer. 

"I can have your bank-book, can't I?" 

"Tha can ha'e it, for what good it'll be to thee." 

"I thought " she began. He had told her had a good bit 

of money left over. But she realised it was no use asking 
questions. She sat rigid with bitterness and indignation. 

The next day she went down to see his mother. 

"Didn't you buy the furniture for Walter?" she asked. 

"Yes, I did," tartly retorted the elder woman. 

"And how much did he give you to pay for it?" 

The elder woman was stung with fine indignation. 

"Eighty pound, if you're so keen on knowin'," she replied. 

"Eighty pounds ! But there are forty-two pounds still owing!" 

"I can't help that." 

"But where has it all gone?" 

"You'll find all the papers, I think, if you look — beside ten 
pound as he owed me, an' six pound as the wedding cost down 

"Six pounds!" echoed Gertrude Morel. It seemed to her 
monstrous that, after her own father had paid so heavily for 
her wedding, six pounds more should have been squandered in 
eating and drinking at Walter's parents' house, at his expense. 

"And how much has he sunk in his houses?" she asked. 

"His houses — which houses?" 


Gertrude Morel went white to the lips. He had told her the 
house he lived in, and the next one, was his own. 

"I thought the house we live in " she began. 

"They're my houses, those two," said the mother-in-law. 
"And not clear either. It's as much as I can do to keep the 
mortgage interest paid." 

Gertrude sat white and silent. She was her father now. 

"Then we ought to be paying you rent," she said coldly. 

"Walter is paying me rent," replied the mother. 

"And what rent?" asked Gertrude. 

"Six and six a week," retorted the mother. 

It was more than the house was worth. Gertrude held her 
head erect, looked straight before her. 

"It is lucky to be you," said the elder woman, bitingly, "to 
have a husband as takes all the worry of the money, and leaves 
you a free hand." 

The young wife was silent. 

She said very little to her husband, but her manner had 
changed towards him. Something in her proud, honourable soul 
had crystallised out hard as rock. 

When October came in, she thought only of Christmas. Two 
years ago, at Christmas, she had met him. Last Christmas 
she had married him. This Christmas she would bear him a 

"You don't dance yourself, do you, missis ?" asked her nearest 
neighbour, in October, when there was great talk of opening a 
dancing-class over the Brick and Tile Inn at Bestwood. 

"No — 1 never had the least inclination to," Mrs. Morel 

"Fancy! An' how funny as you should ha' married your 
Mester. You know he's quite a famous one for dancing." 

"I didn't know he was famous," laughed Mrs. Morel. 

"Yea, he is though! Why, he ran that dancing-class in the 
Miners' Arms club-room for over five year." 

"Did he?" 

"Yes, he did." The other woman was defiant. "An' it was 
thronged every Tuesday, and Thursday, an' Sat' day — an' there 
was carryin's-on, accordin' to all accounts." 

This kind of thing was gall and bitterness to Mrs. Morel, and 
she had a fair share of it. The women did not spare her, at first; 
for she was superior, though she could not help it. 

He began to be rather late in coming home. 


"They're working very late now, aren't they?" she said to 
her washer- woman. 

"No later than they allers do, I don't think. But they stop 
to have their pint at Ellen's, an' they get talkin', an' there you 
are ! Dinner stone cold — an' it serves 'em right." 

"But Mr. Morel does not take any drink." 

The woman dropped the clothes, looked at Mrs. Morel, then 
went on with her work, saying nothing. 

Gertrude Morel was very ill when the boy was born. Morel 
was good to her, as good as gold. But she felt very lonely, 
miles away from her own people. She felt lonely with him 
now, and his presence only made it more intense. 

The boy was small and frail at first, but he came on quickly. 
He was a beautiful child, with dark gold ringlets, and dark- 
blue eyes which changed gradually to a clear grey. His mother 
loved him passionately. He came just when her own bitterness 
of disillusion was hardest to bear; when her faith in life was 
shaken, and her soul felt dreary and lonely. She made much 
of the child, and the father was jealous. 

At last Mrs. Morel despised her husband. She turned to the 
child; she turned from the father. He had begun to neglect her; 
the novelty of his own home was gone. He had no grit, she 
said bitterly to herself. What he felt just at the minute, that 
was all to him. He could not abide by anything. There was 
nothing at the back of all his show. 

There began a battle between the husband and wife — a fear- 
ful, bloody battle that ended only with the death of one. She 
fought to make him undertake his own responsibilities, to make 
him fulfil his obligations. But he was too different from her. 
His nature was p,urely_§£nsuoiis^and she strove to make him 
moral, religious. She tried to force him to face things. He 
could not endure it — ^it drove him out of his mind. 

While the baby was still tiny, the father's temper had be- 
come so irritable that it was not to be trusted. The child had 
only to give a little trouble when the man began to bully. A 
little more, and the hard hands of the collier hit the baby. Then 
Mrs. Morel loathed her husband, loathed him for days; and he 
went out and drank; and she cared very little what he did. 
Only, on his return, she scathed him with her satii^ 

The estrangement between them caused him, knowingly or 
unknowingly, grossly to offend her where he would not ^ave 



William was only one year old, and his mother was proud of 
him, he was so pretty. She was not well oif now, but her sisters 
kept the boy in clothes. Then, with his little white hat curled 
with an ostrich feather, and his white coat, he was a joy to 
her, the twining wisps of hair clustering round his head. Mrs. 
Morel lay listening, one Sunday morning, to the chatter of the 
father and child downstairs. Then she dozed off. When she 
came downstairs, a great fire glowed in the grate, the room was 
hot, the breakfast was roughly laid, and seated in his arm-chair, 
against the chimney-piece, sat Morel, rather timid; and stand- 
ing between his legs, the child — cropped like a sheep, with such 
an odd round poll — looking wondering at her; and on a news- 
paper spread out upon the hearthrug, a myriad of crescent- 
shaped curls, like the petals of a marigold scattered in the 
reddening firelight. 

Mrs. Morel stood still. It was her first baby. She went very 
white, and was unable to speak. 

"What dost think o' 'im?" Morel laughed uneasily. 

She gripped her two fists, lifted them, and came forward. 
Morel shrank back. 

"I could kill you, I could!" she said. She choked with rage, 
her two fists uplifted. 

"Yer non want ter make a wench on 'im," Morel said, in a 
frightened tone, bending his head to shield his eyes from hers. 
His attempt at laughter had vanished. 

The mother looked down at the jagged, close-clipped head 
of her child. She put her hands on his hair, and stroked and 
fondled his head. 

"Oh — my boy!" she faltered. Her lip trembled, her face 
broke, and, snatching up the child, she buried her face in his 
shoulder and cried painfully. She was one of those women who 
cannot cry; whom it hurts as it hurts a man. It was like ripping 
something out of her, her sobbing. 

Morel sat with his elbows on his knees, his hands gripped 
together till the knuckles were white. He gazed in the fire, 
feeling almost stunned, as if he could not breathe. 

Presently she came to an end, soothed the child and cleared 
away the breakfast-table. She left the newspaper, littered with 
curls, spread upon the hearth-rug. At last her husband gathered 
it up and put it at the back of the fire. She went about her 
work with closed mouth and very quiet. Morel was subdued. 
He crept about wretchedly, and his meals were a misery that 


day. She spoke to him civilly, and never alluded to what he 
had done. But he felt something final had happened. 

Afterwards she said she had been silly, that the boy's hair 
would have had to be cut, sooner or later. In the end, she even 
brought herself to say to her husband it was just as well he 
had played barber when he did. But she knew, and Morel knew, 
that that act had caused something momentous to take place 
in her soul. She remembered the scene all her life, as one in 
which she had suffered the most intensely. 

This act of masculine clumsiness was the spear through the 
side of her love for Morel. Before, while she had striven against 
him bitterly, she had fretted after him, as if he had gone astray 
from her. Now she ceased to fret for his love : he was an out- 
sider to her. This made life much more bearable. 

Nevertheless, she still continued to strive with him. She 
still had her high moral sense, inherited from generations of 
Puritans. It was now a religious instinct, and she was almost 
a fanatic vdth him, because she loved him, or had loved him. 
If he sinned, she tortured him. If he drank, and lied, was often 
a poltroon, sometimes a knave, she wielded the lash unmerci- 

The pity was, she was too much his opposite. She could not 
be content with the little he might be; she would have him 
the much that he ought to be. So, in seeking to make him 
nobler than he could be, she destroyed him. She injured and 
hurt and scarred herself, but she lost none of her worth. She 
also had the children. 

He drank rather heavily, though not more than many miners, 
and always beer, so that whilst his health was affected, it was 
never injured. The week-end was his chief carouse. He sat in 
the Miners' Arms until turning-out time every Friday, every 
Saturday, and every Sunday evening. On Monday and Tuesday 
he had to get up and reluctantly leave towards ten o'clock. 
Sometimes he stayed at home on Wednesday and Thursday 
evenings, or was only out for an hour. He practically never 
had to miss work owing to his drinking. 

But although he was very steady at work, his wages fell off. 
He was blab-mouthed, a tongue- wagger. Authority was hateful 
to him, therefore he could only abuse the pit-managers. He 
would say, in the Palmerston : 

'Th' gaffer come down to our stall this morning, an' 'e says, 
Tou know, Walter, this 'ere'll not do. What about these 


props?' An' I says to him, 'Why, what art talkin' about? 
What d'st mean about th' props?' 'It'll never do, this 'ere,' 'e 
says. 'You'll be havin' th' roof in, one o' these days.' An' I 
says, 'Tha'd better stan' on a bit o' clunch, then, an' hold it up 
wi' thy 'ead.' So 'e wor that mad, 'e cossed an' 'e swore, an' 
t'other chaps they did laugh." Morel was a good mimic. He 
imitated the manager's fat, squeaky voice, with its attempt at 
good English. 

" 'I shan't have it, Walter. Who knows more about it, me 
or you?' So I says, 'I've niver fun out how much tha' knows, 
Alfred. It'll 'appen carry thee ter bed an' back.' " 

So Morel would go on to the amusement of his boon com- 
panions. And some of this would be true. The pit-manager was 
not an educated man. He had been a boy along with Morel, so 
that, while the two disliked each other, they more or less took 
each other for granted. But Alfred Charles worth did not for- 
give the butty these public-house sayings. Consequently, 
although Morel was a good miner, sometimes earning as much 
as five pounds a week when he married, he came gradually to 
have worse and worse stalls, where the coal was thin, and hard 
to get, and unprofitable. 

Also, in summer, the pits are slack. Often, on bright sunny 
mornings, the men are seen trooping home again at ten, eleven, 
or twelve o'clock. No empty trucks stand at the pit-mouth. 
The women on the hillside look across as they shake the hearth- 
rug against the fence, and count the wagons the engine is taking 
along the line up the valley. And the children, as they come 
from school at dinner-time, looking down the fields and seeing 
the wheels on the headstocks standing, say : 

"Minton's knocked off. My dad'll be at home." 

And there is a sort of shadow over all, women and children 
and men, because money will be short at the end of tjie week. 

Morel was supposed to give his wife thirty shillings a week, 
to provide everything — rent, food, clothes, clubs, insurance, 
doctors. Occasionally, if he were flush, he gave her thirty-five. 
But these occasions by no means balanced those when he gave 
her twenty-five. In winter, with a decent stall, the miner might 
earn fifty or fifty-five shillings a week. Then he was happy. 
On Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday, he spent royally, get- 
ting rid of his sovereign or thereabouts. And out of so much, 
he scarcely spared the children an extra penny or bought them 
a pound of apples. It all went in drink. In the bad times. 


matters were more worrying, but he was not so often drunk, 
so that Mrs. Morel used to say : 

"I'm not sure I wouldn't rather be short, for when he's flush, 
there isn't a minute of peace." 

If he earned forty shillings he kept ten; from thirty-five he 
kept five; from thirty-two he kept four; from twenty-eight he 
kept three; from twenty-four he kept two; from twenty he kept 
one-and-six; from eighteen he kept a shilling; from sixteen he 
kept sixpence. He never saved a penny, and he gave his wife 
no opportunity of saving; instead, she had occasionally to pay 
his debts; not public-house debts, for those never were passed 
on to the women, but debts when he had bought a canary, or 
a fancy walking-stick. 

At the wakes time Morel was working badly, and Mrs. Morel 
was trying to save against her confinement. So it galled her 
bitterly to think he should be out taking his pleasure and spend- 
ing money, whilst she remained at home, harassed. There were 
two days' holiday. On the Tuesday morning Morel rose early. 
He was in good spirits. Quite early, before six o'clock, she 
heard him whistling away to himself downstairs. He had a 
pleasant way of whistling, lively and musical. He nearly 
always whistled hymns. He had been a choir-boy with a beauti- 
ful voice, and had taken solos in Southwell cathedral. His 
morning whistling alone betrayed it. 

His wife lay listening to him tinkering away in the garden, 
his whistling ringing out as he sawed and hammered away. It 
always gave her a sense of warmth and peace to hear him thus 
as she lay in bed, the children not yet awake, in the bright 
early morning, happy in his man's fashion. 

At nine o'clock, while the children with bare legs and feet 
were sitting playing on the sofa, and the mother was washing 
up, he came in from his carpentry, his sleeves rolled up, his 
waistcoat hanging open. He was still a good-looking man, with 
black, wavy hair, and a large black moustache. His face was 
perhaps too much inflamed, and there was about him a look 
almost of peevishness. But now he was jolly. He went straight 
to the sink where his wife was washing up. 

"What, are thee there!" he said boisterously. "Sluthe off an' 
let me wesh mysen." 

"You may wait till I've finished," said his wife. 

"Oh, mun I? An' what if I shonna?" 

This good-humoured threat amused Mrs. Morel. 


"Then you can go and wash yourself in the soft-water tub." 

"Ha ! I can' an' a', tha mucky little 'ussy." 

With which he stood watching her a moment, then went 
away to wait for her. 

When he chose he could still make himself again a real 
gallant. Usually he preferred to go out with a scarf round his 
neck. Now, however, he made a toilet. There seemed so much 
f[ gusto in the way he puffed and swilled as he washed himself, 
^ rt so much alacrity w ith which he hurried to the mirror in the 
kitchen, and, bending because it was too low for him, scrupu- 
lously parted his wet black hair, that it irritated Mrs. Morel. 
He put on a turn-down collar, a black bow, and wore his Sun- 
day tail-coat. As such, he looked spruce, and what his clothes 
would not do, his instinct for making the most of his good 
looks would. 

At half-past nine Jerry Purdy came to call for his pal. Jerry 
was Morel's bosom friend, and Mrs. Morel disliked him. He 
was a tall, thin man, with a rather foxy face, the kind of face 
that seems to lack eyelashes. He walked with a stiff, brittle 
dignity, as if his head were on a wooden spring. His nature 
was cold and shrewd. Generous where he intended to be 
generous, he seemed to be very fond of Morel, and more or 
less to take charge of him. 

Mrs. Morel hated him. She had known his wife, who had 
died of consumption, and who had, at the end, conceived such 
a violent dislike of her husband, that if he came into her room 
it caused her haemorrhage. None of which Jerry had seemed to 
mind. And now his eldest daughter, a girl of fifteen, kept a 
poor house for him, and looked after the two younger children. 

"A mean, wizzen-hearted stick!" Mrs. Morel said of him. 

"I've never known Jerry mean in my life," protested Morel. 
"A opener-handed and more freer chap you couldn't find any- 
where, accordin' to my knowledge." 

"Open-handed to you," retorted Mrs. Morel. "But his fist is 
shut tight enough to his children, poor things." 

"Poor things! And what for are they poor things, I should 
like to know." 

But Mrs. Morel would not be appeased on Jerry's score. 

The subject of argument was seen, craning his thin neck over 
the scullery curtain. He caught Mrs. Morel's eye. 

"Mornin', missis ! Mesterin?" 

"Yes— he is." 


Jerry entered unasked, and stood by the kitchen doorway. 
He was not invited to sit down, but stood there, coolly assert- 
ing the rights of men and husbands. 

"A nice day," he said to Mrs. Morel. 


"Grand out this morning — grand for a walk." 

"Do you mean you're going for a walk?" she asked. 

"Yes. We mean walkin' to Nottingham," he replied. 


The two men greeted each other, both glad : Jerry, however, 
full of assurance. Morel rather subdued, afraid to seem too 
jubilant in presence of his wife. But he laced his boots quickly, 
with spirit. They were going for a ten-mile walk across the 
fields to Nottingham. Climbing the hillside from the Bottoms, 
they mounted gaily into the morning. At the Moon and Stars 
they had their first drink, then on to the Old Spot. Then a long 
five miles of drought to carry them into Bulwell to a glorious 
pint of bitter. But they stayed in a field with some haymakers 
whose gallon bottle was full, so that, when they came in sight 
of the city. Morel was sleepy. The town spread upwards before 
them, smoking vaguely in the midday glare, fridging the crest 
away to the south with spires and factory bulks and chimneys. 
In the last field Morel lay down under an oak tree and slept 
soundly for over an hour. When he rose to go forward he felt 

The two had dinner in the Meadows, vnth Jerry's sister, then 
repaired to the Punch Bowl, where they mixed in the excite- 
ment of pigeon-racing. Morel never in his life played cards, 
considering them as having some occult, malevolent power — 
"the devil's pictures," he called them! But he was a master 
of skittles and of dominoes. He took a challenge from a 
Newark man, on skittles. All the men in the old, long bar took 
sides, betting either one way or the other. Morel took off his 
coat. Jerry held the hat containing the money. The men at 
the tables watched. Some stood with their mugs in their hands. 
Morel felt his big wooden ball carefully, then launched it. He 
played havoc among the nine-pins, and won half a crown, 
which restored him to solvency. 

By seven o'clock the two were in good condition. They 
caught the 7.30 train home. 

In the afternoon the Bottoms was intolerable. Every in- 
habitant remaining was out of doors. The women, in twos 


and threes, bareheaded and in white aprons, gossiped in the 
alley between the blocks. Men, having a rest between drinks, 
sat on their heels and talked. The place smelled stale; the slate 
roofs glistered in the arid heat. 

Mrs. Morel took the little girl down to the brook in the 
meadows, which were not more than two hundred yards away. 
The water ran quickly over stones and broken pots. Mother 
and child leaned on the rail of the old sheep-bridge, watching. 
Up at the dipping-hole, at the other end of the meadow, Mrs. 
Morel could see the naked forms of boys flashing round the 
deep yellow water, or an occasional bright figure dart glitter- 
ing over the blackish stagnant meadow. She knew William 
was at the dipping-hole, and it was the dread of her life lest he 
should get drowned. Annie played under the tall old hedge, 
picking up alder cones, that she called currants. The child 
required much attention, and the flies were teasing. 

The children were put to bed at seven o'clock. Then she 
worked awhile. 

When Walter Morel and Jerry arrived at Bestwood they felt 
a load off their minds; a railway journey no longer impended, 
so they could put the finishing touches to a glorious day. They 
entered the Nelson with the satisfaction of returned travellers. 

The next day was a work-day, and the thought of it put a 
damper on the men's spirits. Most of them, moreover, had 
spent their money. Some were already rolling dismally home, 
to sleep in preparation for the morrow. Mrs. Morel, listening 
to their mournful singing, went indoors. Nine o'clock passed, 
and ten, and still "the pair" had not returned. On a door- 
step somewhere a man was singing loudly, in a drawl : "Lead, 
kindly Light." Mrs. Morel was always indignant with the 
drunken men that they must sing that hymn when they got 

"As if 'Genevieve' weren't good enough," she said. 

The kitchen was full of the scent of boiled herbs and hops. 
On the hob a large black saucepan steamed slowly. Mrs. Morel 
took a panchion, a great bowl of thick red earth, streamed a 
heap of white sugar into the bottom, and then, straining herself 
to the weight, was pouring in the liquor. 

Just then Morel came in. He had been very jolly in the 
Nelson, but coming home had grown irritable. He had not 
quite got over the feeling of irritability and pain, after having 
slept on the ground when he was so hot; and a bad conscience 


afflicted him as he neared the house. He did not know he was 
angry. But when the garden gate resisted his attempts to open 
it, he kicked it and broke the latch. He entered just as Mrs. 
Morel was pouring the infusion of herbs out of the saucepan. 
Swaying slightly, he lurched against the table. The boihng 
liquor pitched. Mrs. Morel started back. 

"Good gracious," she cried, "coming home in his drunken- 
ness ! " 

"Comin' home in his what?" he snarled, his hat over his eye. 

Suddenly her blood rose in a jet. 

"Say you're not drunk!" she flashed. 

She had put down her saucepan, and was stirring the sugar 
into the beer. He dropped his two hands heavily on the table, 
and thrust his face forwards at her. 

" 'Say you're not drunk,' " he repeated. "Why, nobody but 
a nasty little bitch like you 'ud 'ave such a thought." 

He thrust his face forward at her. 

"There's money to bezzle with, if there's money for nothing 

"I've not spent a two-shillin' bit this day," he said. 

"You don't get as drunk as a lord on nothing," she replied. 
'And," she cried, flashing into sudden fury, "if you've been 
sponging on your beloved Jerry, why, let him look after his 
children, for they need it." 

"It's a lie, it's a He. Shut your face, woman." 

They were now at battle-pitch. Each forgot everything save 
the hatred of the other and the battle between them. She was 
fiery and furious as he. They went on till he called her a liar. 

"No," she cried, starting up, scarce able to breathe. "Don't 
call me that — you, the most despicable liar that ever walked 
in shoe-leather." She forced the last words out of suffocated 

"You're a liar!" he yelled, banging the table with his fist. 
"You're a liar, you're a liar." 

She stiffened herself, with clenched fists. 

"The house is filthy with you," she cried. 

"Then get out on it — it's mine. Get out on it ! " he shouted. 
"It's me as brings th' money whoam, not thee. It's my house, 
not thine. Then ger out on't — ger out on't ! " 

"And I would," she cried, suddenly shaken into tears of 
impotence. "Ah, wouldn't I, wouldn't 1 have gone long ago, 
but for those children. Ay, haven't I repented not going years 


ago, when I'd only the one" — suddenly drying into rage. "Do 
you think it's for you I stop — do you think I'd stop one minute 
for youl" 

"Go, then," he shouted, beside himself. "Go!" 

"No!" She faced round. "No," she cried loudly, "you shan't 
have it all your own way; you shan't do all you like. I've got 
those children to see to. My word," she laughed, "I should look 
well to leave them to you." 

"Go," he cried thickly, lifting his fist. He was afraid of her. 

"I should be only too glad. I should laugh, laugh, my lord, 
if I could get away from you," she replied. 

He came up to her, his red face, with its bloodshot eyes, 
thrust forward, and gripped her arms. She cried in fear of him, 
struggled to be free. Coming slightly to himself, panting, he 
pushed her roughly to the outer door, and thrust her forth, 
slotting the bolt behind her wdth a bang. Then he went back 
into the kitchen, dropped into his arm-chair, his head, bursting 
full of blood, sinking between his knees. Thus he dipped 
gradually into a stupor, from exhaustion and intoxication. 

The moon was high and magnificent in the August night. 
Mrs. Morel, seared with passion, shivered to find herself out 
there in a great white light, that fell cold on her, and gave a 
shock to her inflamed soul. She stood for a few moments help- 
lessly staring at the glistening great rhubarb leaves near the 
door. Then she got the air into her breast. She walked down 
the garden path, trembling in every limb, while the child boiled 
within her. For a while she could not control her conscious- 
ness; mechanically she went over the last scene, then over it 
again, certain phrases, certain moments coming each time like 
a brand red-hot down on her soul; and each time she enacted 
again the past hour, each time the brand came down at the 
same points, till the mark was burnt in, and the pain burnt out, 
and at last she came to herself. She must have been half an 
hour in this delirious condition. Then the presence of the night 
came again to her. She glanced round in fear. She had wan- 
dered to the side garden, where she was walking up and down 
the path beside the currant bushes under the long wall. The 
garden was a narrow strip, bounded from the road, that cut 
transversely between the blocks, by a thick thorn hedge. 

She hurried out of the side garden to the front, where she 
could stand as if in an immense gulf of white light, the moon 


Streaming high in face of her, the moonlight standing up from 
the hills in front, and filling the valley where the Bottoms 
crouched, almost blindingly. There, panting and half weeping 
in reaction from the stress, she murmured to herself over and 
over again : "The nuisance ! the nuisance ! " 

She became aware of something about her. With an effort 
she roused herself to see what it was that penetrated her con- 
sciousness. The tall white lilies were reeling in the moonlight, 
and the air was charged with their perfume, as with a presence. 
Mrs. Morel gasped slightly in fear. She touched the big, pallid 
flowers on their petals, then shivered. They seemed to be 
stretching in the moonlight. She put her hand into one white 
bin: the gold scarcely showed on her fingers by moonlight. 
She bent down to look at the binful of yellow pollen; but it 
only appeared dusky. Then she drank a deep draught of the 
scent. It almost made her dizzy. 

Mrs. Morel leaned on the garden gate, looking out, and she 
lost herself awhile. She did not know what she thought. 
Except for a slight feeling of sickness, and her consciousness 
in the child, herself melted out like scent into the shiny, pale 
air. After a time the child, too, melted with her in the mixing- 
pot of moonlight, and she rested with the hills and lilies and 
houses, all swum together in a kind of swoon. 

When she came to herself she was tired for sleep. Languidly 
she looked about her; the clumps of white phlox seemed like 
bushes spread with linen; a moth ricochetted over them, and 
right across the garden. Following it with her eye roused her. 
A few whiffs of the raw, strong scent of phlox invigorated her. 
She passed along the path, hesitating at the white rose-bush. It 
smelled sweet and simple. She touched the white ruffles of the 
roses. Their fresh scent and cool, soft leaves reminded her of 
the morning-time and sunshine. She was very fond of them. 
But she was tired, and wanted to sleep. In the mysterious out- 
of-doors she felt forlorn. 

There was no noise anywhere. Evidently the children had 
not been wakened, or had gone to sleep again. A train, three 
miles away, roared across the valley. The night was very large, 
and very strange, stretching its hoary distances infinitely. And 
out of the silver-grey fog of darkness came sounds vague ar ' 
hoarse: a corncrake not far off, sound of a train like a sigh, 
and distant shouts of men. 

Her quietened heart beginning to beat quickly again, she 


hurried down the side garden to the back of the house. Softly 
she lifted the latch; the door was still bolted, and hard against 
her. She rapped gently, waited, then rapped again. She must 
not rouse the children, nor the neighbours. He must be asleep, 
and he would not wake easily. Her heart began to burn to be 
indoors. She clung to the door-handle. Now it was cold; she 
would take a chill, and in her present condition ! 

Putting her apron over her head and her arms, she hurried 
again to the side garden, to the window of the kitchen. Lean- 
ing on the sill, she could just see, under the blind, her husband's 
arms spread out on the table, and his black head on the board. 
He was sleeping with his face lying on the table. Something in 
his attitude made her feel tired of things. The lamp was burn- 
ing smokily; she could tell by the copper colour of the light. 
She tapped at the window more and more noisily. Almost it 
seemed as if the glass would break. Still he did not wake up. 

After vain efforts, she began to shiver, partly from contact 
with the stone, and from exhaustion. Fearful always for the 
unborn child, she wondered what she could do for warmth. She 
went down to the coal-house, where there w^as an old hearth- 
rug she had carried out for the rag-man the day before. This 
she wrapped over her shoulders. It was warm, if grimy. Then 
she walked up and down the garden path, peeping every now 
and then under the blind, knocking, and telling herself that in 
the end the very strain of his position must wake him. 

At last, after about an hour, she rapped long and low at the 
window. Gradually the sound penetrated to him. When, in 
despair, she had ceased to tap, she saw him stir, then lift his 
face blindly. The labouring of his heart hurt him into conscious- 
ness. She rapped imperatively at the window. He started 
awake. Instantly she saw his fists set and his eyes glare. He 
had not a grain of physical fear. If it had been twenty burglars, 
he would have gone blindly for them. He glared round, be- 
wildered, but prepared to fight. 

"Open the door, Walter," she said coldly. 

His hands relaxed. It dawned on him what he had done. His 
head dropped, sullen and dogged. She saw him hurry to the 
door, heard the bolt chock. He tried the latch. It opened — and 
there stood the silver-grey night, fearful to him, after the tawny 
light of the lamp. He hurried back. 

When Mrs. Morel entered, she saw him almost running 
through the door to the stairs. He had ripped his collar off 


his neck in his haste to be gone ere she came in, and there it 
lay with bursten button-holes. It made her angry. 

She warmed and soothed herself. In her weariness forget- 
ting everything, she moved about at the little tasks that re- 
mained to be done, set his breakfast, rinsed his pit-bottle, put 
his pit-clothes on the hearth to warm, set his pit-boots beside 
them, put him out a clean scarf and snap-bag and two apples, 
raked the fire, and went to bed. He was already dead asleep. 
His narrow black eyebrows were drawn up in a sort of peevish 
misery into his forehead while his cheeks' down-strokes, and 
his sulky mouth, seemed to be saying : "I don't care who you 
are nor what you are, I shall have my own way." 

Mrs. Morel knew him too well to look at him. As she un- 
fastened her brooch at the mirror, she smiled faintly to see her 
face all smeared with the yellow dust of lilies. She brushed it 
off, and at last lay down. For some time her mind continued 
snapping and jetting sparks, but she was asleep before her 
husband awoke from the first sleep of his drunkenness. 



After such a scene as the last, Walter Morel was for some days 
abashed and ashamed, but he soon regained his old bullying in- 
difference. Yet there was a slight shrinking, a diminishing in his 
assurance. Physically even, he shrank, and his fine full presence 
waned. He never grew in the least stout, so that, as he sank 
from his erect, assertive bearing, his physique seemed to con- 
tract along with his pride and moral strength. 

But now he realised how hard it was for his wife to drag 
about at her work, and, his sympathy quickened by penitence, 
hastened forward with his help. He came straight home from 
the pit, and stayed in at evening till Friday, and then he could 
not remain at home. But he was back again by ten o'clock, 
almost quite sober. 

He always made his own breakfast. Being a man who rose 
early and had plenty of time he did not, as some miners do, 
drag his wife out of bed at six o'clock. At five, sometimes 
earlier, he woke, got straight out of bed, and went downstairs. 
When she could not sleep, his wife lay waiting for this time, as 


for a period of peace. The only real rest seemed to be when he 
was out of the house. 

He went downstairs in his shirt and then struggled into his 
pit-trousers, which were left on the hearth to warm all night. 
There was always a fire, because Mrs. Morel raked. And the 
first sound in the house was the bang, bang of the poker against 
the raker, as Morel smashed the remainder of the coal to make 
the kettle, which was filled and left on the hob, finally boil. 
His cup and knife and fork, all he wanted except just the food, 
was laid ready on the table on a newspaper. Then he got his 
breakfast, made the tea, packed the bottom of the doors with 
rugs to shut out the draught, piled a big fire, and sat down to 
an hour of joy. He toasted his bacon on a fork and caught the 
drops of fat on his bread; then he put the rasher on his thick 
slice of bread, and cut off chunks with a clasp-knife, poured his 
tea into his saucer, and was happy. With his family about, 
meals were never so pleasant. He loathed a fork : it is a modern 
introduction which has still scarcely reached common people. 
What Morel preferred was a clasp-knife. Then, in solitude, he 
ate and drank, often sitting, in cold weather, on a little stool 
with his back to the warm chimney-piece, his food on the 
fender, his cup on the hearth. And then he read the last night's 
newspaper — what of it he could — spelling it over laboriously. 
He preferred to keep the blinds down and the candle lit even 
when it was daylight; it was the habit of the mine. 

At a quarter to six he rose, cut two thick slices of bread and 
butter, and put them in the white calico snap-bag. He filled his 
tin bottle with tea. Cold tea without milk or sugar was the 
drink he preferred for the pit. Then he pulled off his shirt, and 
put on his pit-singlet, a vest of thick flannel cut low round the 
neck, and with short sleeves like a chemise. 

Then he went upstairs to his wife with a cup of tea because 
she was ill, and because it occurred to him. 

"I've brought thee a cup o' tea, lass," he said. 

"Well, you needn't, for you know 1 don't hke it," she replied. 

"Drink it up; it'll pop thee off to sleep again." 

She accepted the tea. It pleased him to see her take it and 
sip it. 

"I'll back my life there's no sugar in," she said. 

"Yi — there's one big 'un," he replied, injured. 

"It's a wonder," she said, sipping again. 

She had a winsome face when her hair was loose. He loved 


her to grumble at him in this manner. He looked at her again, 
and went, without any sort of leave-taking. He never took 
more than two slices of bread and butter to eat in the pit, so 
an apple or an orange was a treat to him. He always liked it 
when she put one out for him. He tied a scarf round his neck, 
put on his great, heavy boots, his coat, with the big pocket, 
that carried his snap-bag and his bottle of tea, and went forth 
into the fresh morning air, closing, without locking, the door 
behind him. He loved the early morning, and the walk across 
the fields. So he appeared at the pit-top, often with a stalk 
from the hedge between his teeth, which he chewed all day 
to keep his mouth moist, down the mine, feeling quite as happy 
as when he was in the field. 

Later, when the time for the baby grew nearer, he would 
bustle round in his slovenly fashion, poking out the ashes, rub- 
bing the fireplace, sweeping the house before he went to work. 
Then, feeling very self-righteous, he went upstairs. 

"Now I'm cleaned up for thee: tha's no 'casions ter stir a 
peg all day, but sit and read thy books." 

Which made her laugh, in spite of her indignation. 

"And the dinner cooks itself?" she answered. 

"Eh, I know nowt about th' dinner." 

"You'd know if there weren't any." 

"Ay, 'appen so," he answered, departing. 

When she got downstairs, she would find the house tidy, but 
dirty. She could not rest until she had thoroughly cleaned; so 
she went down to the ash-pit with her dust-pan. Mrs. Kirk, 
spying her, would contrive to have to go to her own coal- 
place at that minute. Then, across the wooden fence, she 
would call : 

"So you keep wagging on, then?" 

"Ay," answered Mrs. Morel deprecatingly. "There's nothing 
else for it." 

"Have you seen Hose?" called a very small woman from 
across the road. It was Mrs. Anthony, a black-haired, strange 
little body, who always wore a brown velvet dress, tight fitting. 

"I haven't," said Mrs. Morel. 

"Eh, I wish he'd come. I've got a copperful of clothes, an' 
I'm sure I heered his bell." 

"Hark! He's at the end." 

The two women looked down the alley. At the end of the 
Bottoms a man stood in a sort of old-fashioned trap, bending 


over bundles of cream-coloured stuff; while a cluster of women 
held up their arms to him, some with bundles. Mrs. Anthony 
herself had a heap of creamy, undyed stockings hanging over 
her arm. 

"I've done ten dozen this week/' she said proudly to Mrs. 

"T-t-t!" went the other. "I don't know how you can find 

"Eh!" said Mrs. Anthony. "You can find time if you make 

"I don't know how you do it," said Mrs. Morel. "And how 
much shall you get for those many?" 

"Tuppence-ha'penny a dozen," replied the other. 

"Well," said Mrs. Morel. "I'd starve before I'd sit down and 
seam twenty-four stockings for twopence ha'penny." 

"Oh, 1 don't know," said Mrs. Anthony. "You can rip along 
with 'em." 

Hose was coming along, ringing his bell. Women were wait- 
ing at the yard-ends with their seamed stockings hanging over 
their arms. The man, a common fellow, made jokes with them, 
tried to swindle them, and bullied them. Mrs. Morel went up 
her yard disdainfully. 

It was an understood thing that if one woman wanted her 
neighbour, she should put the poker in the fire and bang at the 
back of the fireplace, which, as the fires were back to back, 
would make a great noise in the adjoining house. One morn- 
ing Mrs. Kirk, mixing a pudding, nearly started out of her skin 
as she heard the thud, thud, in her grate. With her hands all 
floury, she rushed to the fence. 

"Did you knock, Mrs. Morel?" 

"If you wouldn't mind, Mrs. Kirk." 

Mrs. Kirk climbed on to her copper, got over the wall on to 
Mrs. Morel's copper, and ran in to her neighbour. 

"Eh, dear, how are you feeling?" she cried in concern. 

"You might fetch Mrs. Bower," said Mrs. Morel. 

Mrs. Kirk went into the yard, lifted up her strong, shrill 
voice, and called : 

"Ag-gie— Ag-gie!" 

The sound was heard from one end of the Bottoms to the 
other. At last Aggie came running up, and was sent for Mrs. 
Bower, whilst Mrs. Kirk left her pudding and stayed with her 


Mrs. Morel went to bed. Mrs. Kirk had Annie and William 
for dinner. Mrs. Bower, fat and waddling, bossed the house. 

"Hash some cold meat up for the master's dinner, and make 
him an apple-charlotte pudding," said Mrs. Morel. 

"He may go without pudding this day," said Mrs. Bower. 

Morel was not as a rule one of the first to appear at the 
bottom of the pit, ready to come up. Some men were there 
before four o'clock, when the whistle blew loose-all; but Morel, 
whose stall, a poor one, was at this time about a mile and a 
half away from the bottom, worked usually till the first mate 
stopped, then he finished also. This day, however, the miner 
was sick of the work. At two o'clock he looked at his watch, 
by the light of the green candle — he was in a safe working — 
and again at half-past two. He was hewing at a piece of rock 
that was in the way for the next day's work. As he sat on 
his heels, or kneeled, giving hard blows with his pick, "Uszza — 
uszza!" he went. 

"Shall ter finish. Sorry?" cried Barker, his fellow butty. 

"Finish? Niver while the world stands!" growled Morel. 

And he went on striking. He was tired. 

"It's a heart-breaking job," said Barker. 

But Morel was too exasperated, at the end of his tether, to 
answer. Still he struck and hacked with all his might. 

"Tha might as well leave it, Walter," said Barker. "It'll do 
to-morrow, without thee hackin' thy guts out." 

"I'll lay no b finger on this to-morrow, Isr'el!" cried 


"Oh, well, if tha wunna, someb'dy else '11 ha'e to," said 

Then Morel continued to strike. 

"Hey-up there — /oose-a'.'" cried the men, leaving the next stall. 

Morel continued to strike. 

"Tha'll happen catch me up," said Barker, departing. 

When he had gone. Morel, left alone, felt savage. He had 
not finished his job. He had overworked himself into a frenzy. 
Rising, wet with sweat, he threw his tool down, pulled on his 
coat, blew out his candle, took his lamp, and went. Down the 
main road the lights of the other men went swinging. There 
was a hollow sound of many voices. It was a long, heavy^ 
tramp underground. 

He sat at the bottom of the pit, where the great drops of 


He sat at the bottom of the pit, where the great drops of 
water fell plash. Many colliers were waiting their turns to 
go up, talking noisily. Morel gave his answers short and dis- 

"It's rainin'. Sorry," said old Giles, who had had the news 
from the top. 

Morel found one comfort. He had his old umbrella, which 
he loved, in the lamp cabin. At last he took his stand on the 
chair, and was at the top in a moment. Then he handed in his 
lamp and got his umbrella, which he had bought at an auction 
for one-and-six. He stood on the edge of the pit-bank for a 
moment, looking out over the fields; grey rain was falling. The 
trucks stood full of wet, bright coal. Water ran down the sides 
of the waggons, over the white "C.W. and Co.". Colliers, walk- 
ing indifferent to the rain, were streaming down the line and 
up the field, a grey, dismal host. Morel put up his umbrella, 
and took pleasure from the peppering of the drops thereon. 

All along the road to Bestwood the miners tramped, wet and 
grey and dirty, but their red mouths talking with animation. 
Morel also walked with a gang, but he said nothing. He 
frowned peevishly as he went. Many men passed into the 
Prince of Wales or into Ellen's. Morel, feeling sufficiently dis- 
agreeable to resist temptation, trudged along under the drip- 
ping trees that overhung the park wall, and down the mud of 
Greenhill Lane. 

Mrs. Morel lay in bed, listening to the rain, and the feet of 
the colliers from Minton, their voices, and the bang, bang of 
the gates as they went through the stile up the field. 

"There's some herb beer behind the pantry door," she said. 
"Th' master '11 want a drink, if he doesn't stop." 

But he was late, so she concluded he had called for a drink, 
since it was raining. What did he care about the child or her ? 

She was very ill when her children were born. 

"What is it?" she asked, feeling sick to death. 

"A boy." 

And she took consolation in that. The thought of being the 
mother of men was warming to her heart. She looked at the 
child. It had blue eyes, and a lot of fair hair, and was bonny. 
Her love came up hot, in spite of everything. She had it in 
bed with her. 

Morel, thinking nothing, dragged his way up the garden path, 
wearily and angrily. He closed his umbrella, and stood it in 


the sink; then he sluthered his heavy boots into the kitchen. 
Mrs. Bower appeared in the inner doorway. 

"Well," she said, "she's about as bad as she can be. It's a 
boy childt." 

The miner grunted, put his empty snap-bag and his tin bottle 
on the dresser, went back into the scullery and hung up his 
coat, then came and dropped into his chair. 

"Han yer got a drink?" he asked. 

The woman went into the pantry. There was heard the pop 
of a cork. She set the mug, with a little, disgusted rap, on the 
table before Morel. He drank, gasped, wiped his big moustache 
on the end of his scarf, drank, gasped, and lay back in his chair. 
The woman would not speak to him again. She set his dinner 
before him, and went upstairs. 

"Was that the master?" asked Mrs. Morel. 

"I've gave him his dinner," replied Mrs. Bower. 

After he had sat with his arms on the table — he resented the 
fact that Mrs. Bower put no cloth on for him, and gave him a 
little plate, instead of a full-sized dinner-plate — he began to 
eat. The fact that his wife was ill, that he had another boy, 
was nothing to him at that moment. He was too tired; he 
wanted his dinner; he wanted to sit with his arms lying on the 
board; he did not like having Mrs. Bower about. The fire was 
too small to please him. 

After he had finished his meal, he sat for twenty minutes; 
then he stoked up a big fire. Then, in his stockinged feet, he 
went reluctantly upstairs. It was a struggle to face his wife 
at this moment, and he was tired. His face was black, and 
smeared with sweat. His singlet had dried again, soaking the 
dirt in. He had a dirty woollen scarf round his throat. So he 
stood at the foot of the bed. 

"Well, how are ter, then?" he asked. 

"I s'U be all right," she answered. 


He stood at a loss what to say next. He was tired, and this 
bother was rather a nuisance to him, and he didn't quite know 
where he was. 

"A lad, tha says," he stammered. 

She turned down the sheet and showed the child. 

"Bless him!" he murmured. Which made her laugh, because 
he blessed by rote — pretending paternal emotion, which he did 
not feel just then. 


"Go now," she said. 

"I will, my lass/' he answered, turning away. 

Dismissed, he wanted to kiss her, but he dared not. She half 
wanted him to kiss her, but could not bring herself to give any 
sign. She only breathed freely when he was gone out of the 
room again, leaving behind him a faint smell of pit-dirt. 

Mrs. Morel had a visit every day from the Congregational 
clergyman. Mr. Heaton was young, and very poor. His wife 
had died at the birth of his first baby, so he remained alone in 
the manse. He was a Bachelor of Arts of Cambridge, very 
shy, and no preacher, Mrs. Morel was fond of him, and he 
depended on her. For hours he talked to her, when she was 
well. He became the god-parent of the child. 

Occasionally the minister stayed to tea with Mrs. Morel. 
Then she laid the cloth early, got out her best cups, with a 
little green rim, and hoped Morel would not come too soon; 
indeed, if he stayed for a pint, she would not mind this day. 
She had always two dinners to cook, because she believed 
children should have their chief meal at midday, whereas 
Morel needed his at five o'clock. So Mr. Heaton would hold 
the baby, whilst Mrs. Morel beat up a batter-pudding or peeled 
the potatoes, and he, watching her all the time, would discuss 
his next sermon. His ideas were quaint and fantastic. She 
brought him judiciously to earth. It was a discussion of the 
wedding at Cana. 

"When He changed the water into wine at Cana," he said, 
"that is a symbol that the ordinary life, even the blood, of the 
married husband and wife, which had before been uninspired, 
like water, became filled with the Spirit, and was as wine, be- 
cause, when love enters, the whole spiritual constitution of a 
man changes, is filled with the Holy Ghost, and almost his form 
is altered." 

Mrs. Morel thought to herself: 

"Yes, poor fellow, his young wife is dead; that is why he 
makes his love into the Holy Ghost." 

They were halfway down their first cup of tea when they 
heard the sluther of pit-boots. 

"Good gracious ! " exclaimed Mrs. Morel, in spite of herself. 

The minister looked rather scared. Morel entered. He was 
feeling rather savage. He nodded a "How d'yer do" to the 
clergyman, who rose to shake hands with him. 

"Nay," said Morel, showing his hand, "look thee at it ! Tha 


niver wants ter shake hands wi' a hand like that, does ter? 
There's too much pick-haft and shovel-dirt on it." 

The minister flushed with confusion, and sat down again. 
Mrs. Morel rose, carried out the steaming saucepan. Morel 
took off his coat, dragged his armchair to table, and sat down 

"Are you tired?" asked the clergyman. 

"Tired? I ham that," replied Morel. "You don't know what 
it is to be tired, as I'm tired." 

"No," replied the clergyman. 

"Why, look yer 'ere," said the miner, showing the shoulders 
of his singlet. "It's a bit dry now, but it's wet as a clout with 
sweat even yet. Feel it." 

"Goodness ! " cried Mrs. Morel. "Mr. Heaton doesn't want to 
feel your nasty singlet." 

The clergyman put out his hand gingerly. 

"No, perhaps he doesn't," said Morel; "but it's all come out 
of me, whether or not. An' iv'ry day alike my singlet's wringin' 
wet. 'Aven't you got a drink. Missis, for a man when he comes 
home barkled up from the pit." 

"You know you drank all the beer," said Mrs. Morel, pouring 
out his tea. 

"An' was there no more to be got?" Turning to the clergy- 
man — "A man gets that caked up wi' th' dust, you know, — that 
clogged up down a coal-mine, he needs a drink when he comes 

"I am sure he does," said the clergyman. 

"But it's ten to one if there's owt for him." 

"There's water — and there's tea," said Mrs. Morel. 

"Water ! It's not water as'U clear his throat." 

He poured out a saucerful of tea, blew it, and sucked it up 
through his great black moustache, sighing afterwards. Then 
he poured out another saucerful, and stood his cup on the table. 

"My cloth!" said Mrs, Morel, putting it on a plate. 

"A man as comes home as I do 's too tired to care about 
cloths," said Morel. 

"Pity ! " exclaimed his vdfe, sarcastically. 

The room was full of the smell of meat and vegetables and 

He leaned over to the minister, his great moustache thrust 
forward, his mouth very red in his black face. 

"Mr. Heaton," he said, "a man as has been down the black 


hole all day, dingin' away at a coal-face, yi, a sight harder 
than that wall " 

"Needn't make a moan of it," put in Mrs. Morel. 

She hated her husband because, whenever he had an audience, 
he whined and played for sympathy. William, sitting nursing 
the baby, hated him, with a boy's hatred for false sentiment, 
and for the stupid treatment of his mother. Annie had never 
liked him; she merely avoided him. 

When the minister had gone, Mrs. Morel looked at her cloth. 

"A fine mess!" she said. 

"Dos't think I'm goin' to sit wi' my arms danglin', cos tha's 
got a parson for tea wi' thee?" he bawled. 

They were both angry, but she said nothing. The baby began 
to cry, and Mrs. Morel, picking up a saucepan from the hearth, 
accidentally knocked Annie on the head, whereupon the girl 
began to whine, and Morel to shout at her. In the midst of this 
pandemonium, William looked up at the big glazed text over 
the mantelpiece and read distinctly: 

"God Bless Our Home!" 

Whereupon Mrs. Morel, trying to soothe the baby, jumped 
up, rushed at him, boxed his ears, saying : 

"What are you putting in for?" 

And then she sat down and laughed, till tears ran over her 
cheeks, while William kicked the stool he had been sitting on, 
and Morel growled : 

"1 canna see what there is so much to laugh at." 

One evening, directly after the parson's visit, feeling unable 
to bear herself after another display from her husband, she took 
Annie and the baby and went out. Morel had kicked William, 
and the mother would never forgive him. 

She went over the sheep-bridge and across a corner of the 
meadow to the cricket-ground. The meadows seemed one space 
of ripe, evening light, whispering with the distant mill-race. She 
sat on a seat under the alders in the cricket-ground, and fronted 
the evening. Before her, level and solid, spread the big green 
cricket-field, like the bed of a sea of light. Children played in 
the bluish shadow of the pavilion. Many rooks, high up, came 
cawing home across the softly-woven sky. They stooped in a 
long curve down into the golden glow, concentrating, cavnng, 
wheeling, like black flakes on a slow vortex, over a tree clump 
that made a dark boss among the pasture. 

A few gentlemen were practising, and Mrs. Morel could hear 


the chock of the ball, and the voices of men suddenly roused; 
could see the white forms of men shifting silently over the 
green, upon which already the under shadows were smoulder- 
ing. Away at the grange, one side of the haystacks was lit up, 
the other sides blue-grey. A waggon of sheaves rocked small 
across the melting yellow light. 

The sun was going down. Every open evening, the hills 
of Derbyshire were blazed over with red sunset. Mrs. Morel 
watched the sun sink from the glistening sky, leaving a soft 
flower-blue overhead, while the western space went red, as if 
all the fire had swum down there, leaving the bell cast flawless 
blue. The mountain-ash berries across the field stood fierily out 
from the dark leaves, for a moment. A few shocks of com in 
a corner of the fallow stood up as if alive; she imagined them 
bowing; perhaps her son would be a Joseph. In the east, a 
mirrored sunset floated pink opposite the west's scarlet. The 
big haystacks on the hillside, that butted into the glare, went 

With Mrs. Morel it was one of those still moments when the 
small frets vanish, and the beauty of things stands out, and she 
had the peace and the strength to see herself. Now and again, 
a swallow cut close to her. Now and again, Annie came up 
with a handful of alder-currants. The baby was restless on his 
mother's knee, clambering with his hands at the light. 

Mrs. Morel looked down at him. She had dreaded this baby 
like a catastrophe, because of her feeling for her husband. And 
now she felt strangely towards the infant. Her heart was heavy 
because of the child, almost as if it were unhealthy, or mal- 
formed. Yet it seemed quite well. But she noticed the peculiar 
knitting of the baby's brows, and the peculiar heaviness of its 
eyes, as if it were trying to understand something that was pain. 
She felt, when she looked at her child's dark, brooding pupils, 
as if a burden were on her heart. 

"He looks as if he was thinking about something — quite 
sorrowful," said Mrs. Kirk. 

Suddenly, looking at him, the heavy feeling at the mother's 
heart melted into passionate grief. She bowed over him, and a 
few tears shook swiftly out of her very heart. The baby lifted 
his fingers. 

"My lamb!" she cried softly. 

And at that moment she felt, in some far inner place of her 
soul, that she and her husband were guilty. 


The baby was looking up at her. It had blue eyes like her 
own, but its look was heavy, steady, as if it had realised some- 
thing that had stunned some point of its soul. 

In her arms lay the delicate baby. Its deep blue eyes, always 
looking up at her unblinking, seemed to draw her innermost 
thoughts out of her. She no longer loved her husband; she had 
not wanted this child to come, and there it lay in her arms and 
pulled at her heart. She felt as if the navel string that had con- 
nected its frail little body with hers had not been broken. A 
wave of hot love went over her to the infant. She held it close 
to her face and breast. With all her force, with all her soul she 
would make up to it for having brought it into the world un- 
loved. She would love it all the more now it was here; carry it 
in her love. Its clear, knowing eyes gave her pain and fear. 
Did it know all about her? When it lay under her heart, had it 
been listening then? Was there a reproach in the look? She 
felt the marrow melt in her bones, with fear and pain. 

Once more she was aware of the sun lying red on the rim of 
the hill opposite. She suddenly held up the child in her hands 

"Look!" she said. "Look, my pretty!" 

She thrust the infant forward to the crimson, throbbing sun, 
almost with relief. She saw him lift his little fist. Then she put 
him to her bosom again, ashamed almost of her impulse to 
give him back again whence he came. 

"If he lives," she thought to herself, "what will become of 
him — what will he be?" 

Her heart was anxious. 

"I will call him Paul," she said suddenly; she knew not why. 

After a while she went home. A fine shadow was flung over 
the deep green meadow, darkening all. 

As she expected, she found the house empty. But Morel 
was home by ten o'clock, and that day, at least, ended peace- 

Walter Morel was, at this time, exceedingly irritable. His 
work seemed to exhaust him. When he came home he did not 
speak civilly to anybody. If the fire were rather low he bullied 
about that; he grumbled about his dinner; if the children made 
a chatter he shouted at them in a way that made their mother's 
blood boil, and made them hate him. 

On the Friday, he was not home by eleven o'clock. The baby 
was unwell, and was restless, crying if he were put down. Mrs. 
Morel, tired to death, and still weak, was scarcely under control. 


"I wish the nuisance would come," she said wearily to herself. 

The child at last sank down to sleep in her arms. She was too 
tired to carry him to the cradle. 

"But I'll say nothing, whatever time he comes," she said. 
"It only works me up; I won't say anything. But I know if 
he does anything it'll make my blood boil," she added to her- 

She sighed, hearing him coming, as if it were something she 
could not bear. He, taking his revenge, was nearly drunk. She 
kept her head bent over the child as he entered, not wishing to 
see him. But it went through her like a flash of hot fire when, 
in passing, he lurched against the dresser, setting the tins 
rattling, and clutched at the white pot knobs for support. He 
hung up his hat and coat, then returned, stood glowering from 
a distance at her, as she sat bowed over the child. 

"Is there nothing to eat in the house?" he asked, insolently, 
as if to a servant. In certain stages of his intoxication he 
affected the clipped, mincing speech of the towns. Mrs. Morel 
hated him most in this condition. 

"You know what there is in the house," she said, so coldly, 
it sounded impersonal. 

He stood and glared at her without moving a muscle. 

"I asked a civil question, and I expect a civil answer," he said 

"And you got it," she said, still ignoring him. 

He glowered again. Then he came unsteadily forward. He 
leaned on the table with one hand, and with the other jerked 
at the table drawer to get a knife to cut bread. The drawer 
stuck because he pulled sideways. In a temper he dragged it, 
so that it flew out bodily, and spoons, forks, knives, a hundred 
metallic things, splashed with a clatter and a clang upon the 
brick floor. The baby gave a little convulsed start. 

"What are you doing, clumsy, drunken fool?" the mother 

"Then tha should get the flamin' thing thysen. Tha should 
get up, like other women have to, an' wait on a man." 

"Wait on you — wait on you?" she cried. "Yes, I see myself." 

"Yis, an' I'll learn thee tha's got to. Wait on me, yes tha sh'lt 
wait on me " 

"Never, milord. I'd wait on a dog at the door first." 

"What— what?" 

He was trying to fit in the drawer. At her last speech he 


turned round. His face was crimson, his eyes bloodshot. He 
stared at her one silent second in threat. 

"P-h!" she went quickly, in contempt. 

He jerked at the drawer in his excitement. It fell, cut sharply 
on his shin, and on the reflex he flung it at her. 

One of the comers caught her brow as the shallow drawer 
crashed into the fireplace. She swayed, almost fell stunned from 
her chair. To her very soul she was sick; she clasped the child 
tightly to her bosom. A few moments elapsed; then, with an 
effort, she brought herself to. The baby was crying plaintively. 
Her left brow was bleeding rather profusely. As she glanced 
down at the child, her brain reeling, some drops of blood soaked 
into its white shawl; but the baby was at least not hurt. She 
balanced her head to keep equilibrium, so that the blood ran 
into her eye. 

Walter Morel remained as he had stood, leaning on the table 
with one hand, looking blank. When he was sufficiently sure 
of his balance, he went across to her, swayed, caught hold of 
the back of her rocking-chair, almost tipping her out; then lean- 
ing forward over her, and swaying as he spoke, he said, in a 
tone of wondering concern : 

"Did it catch thee?" 

He swayed again, as if he would pitch on to the child. With 
the catastrophe he had lost all balance. 

"Go away," she said, struggling to keep her presence of mind. 

He hiccoughed. "Let's — let's look at it," he said, hiccoughing 

"Go away ! " she cried. 

"Lemme — lemme look at it, lass." 

She smelled him of drink, felt the unequal pull of his swaying 
grasp on the back of her rocking-chair. 

"Go away," she said, and weakly she pushed him off. 

He stood, uncertain in balance, gazing upon her. Summoning 
all her strength she rose, the baby on one arm. By a cruel effort 
of will, moving as if in sleep, she went across to the scullery, 
where she bathed her eye for a minute in cold water; but she 
was too dizzy. Afraid lest she should swoon, she returned to 
her rocking-chair, trembling in every fibre. By instinct, she kept 
the baby clasped. 

Morel, bothered, had succeeded in pushing the drawer back 
into its cavity, and was on his knees, groping, with numb paws, 
for the scattered spoons. 


Her brow was still bleeding. Presently Morel got up and came 
craning his neck towards her. 

"What has it done to thee, lass?" he asked, in a very 
wretched, humble tone. 

"You can see what it's done," she answered. 

He stood, bending forward, supported on his hands, which 
grasped his legs just above the knee. He peered to look at the 
wound. She drew away from the thrust of his face with its 
great moustache, averting her own face as much as possible. As 
he looked at her, who was cold and impassive as stone, with 
mouth shut tight, he sickened with feebleness and hopeless- 
ness of spirit. He was turning drearily away, when he saw a 
drop of blood fall from the averted wound into the baby's 
fragile, glistening hair. Fascinated, he watched the heavy dark 
drop hang in the glistening cloud, and pull down the gossamer. 
Another drop fell. It would soak through to the baby's scalp. 
He watched, fascinated, feeling it soak in; then, finally, his 
manhood broke. 

"What of this child?" was all his wife said to him. But her 
low, intense tones brought his head lower. She softened: "Get 
me some wadding out of the middle drawer," she said. 

He stumbled away very obediently, presently returning with 
a pad, which she singed before the fire, then put on her fore- 
head, as she sat with the baby on her lap. 

"Now that clean pit-scarf." 

Again he rummaged and fumbled in the drawer, returning 
presently with a red, narrow scarf. She took it, and with trem- 
bling fingers proceeded to bind it round her head. 

"Let me tie it for thee," he said humbly. 

"I can do it myself," she replied. When it was done she went 
upstairs, telling him to rake the fire and lock the door. 

In the morning Mrs. Morel said : 

"I knocked against the latch of the coal-place, when I was 
getting a raker in the dark, because the candle blew out." Her 
two small children looked up at her with wide, dismayed eyes. 
They said nothing, but their parted lips seemed to express the 
unconscious tragedy they felt. 

Walter Morel lay in bed next day until nearly dinner-time. 
He did not think of the previous evening's work. He scarcely 
thought of anything, but he would not think of that. He lay 
and suffered like a sulking dog. He had hurt himself most; and 
he was the more damaged because he would never say a word 


to her, or express his sorrow. He tried to wriggle out of it. 
"It was her own fault," he said to himself. Nothing, however, 
could prevent his inner consciousness inflicting on him the 
punishment which ate into his spirit like rust, and which he 
could only alleviate by drinking. 

He felt as if he had not the initiative to get up, or to say a 
word, or to move, but could only lie like a log. Moreover, he 
had himself violent pains in the head. It was Saturday. Towards 
noon he rose, cut himself food in the pantry, ate it with his 
head dropped, then pulled on his boots, and went out, to 
return at three o'clock slightly tipsy and relieved; then once 
more straight to bed. He rose again at six in the evening, had 
tea and went straight out. 

Sunday was the same: bed till noon, the Palmerston Arms 
till 2.30, dinner, and bed; scarcely a word spoken. When Mrs. 
Morel went upstairs, towards four o'clock, to put on her Sunday 
dress, he was fast asleep. She would have felt sorry for him, if 
he had once said, "Wife, I'm sorry." But no; he insisted to him- 
self it was her fault. And so he broke himself. So she merely 
left him alone. There was this deadlock of passion between 
them, and she was stronger. 

The family began tea. Sunday was the only day when all sat 
down to meals together. 

"Isn't my father going to get up?" asked William. 

"Let him lie," the mother replied. 

There was a feeling of misery over all the house. The children 
breathed the air that was poisoned, and they felt dreary. They 
were rather disconsolate, did not know what to do, what to 
play at. 

Immediately Morel woke he got straight out of bed. That was 
characteristic of him all his life. He was all for activity. The 
prostrated inactivity of two mornings was stifling him. 

It was near six o'clock when he got down. This time he 
entered without hesitation, his wincing sensitiveness having 
hardened again. He did not care any longer what the family 
thought or felt. 

The tea-things were on the table. William was reading aloud 
from "The Child's Own", Annie listening and asking eternally 
"why?" Both children hushed into silence as they heard the 
approaching thud of their father's stockinged feet, and shrank 
as he entered. Yet he was usually indulgent to them. 

Morel made the meal alone, brutally. He ate and drank more 


noisily than he had need. No one spoke to him. The family life 
withdrew, shrank away, and became hushed as he entered. But 
he cared no longer about his alienation. 

Immediately he had finished tea he rose with alacrity to 
go out. It was this alacrity, this haste to be gone, which so 
sickened Mrs. Morel. As she heard him sousing heartily in cold 
water, heard the eager scratch of the steel comb on the side 
of the bowl, as he wetted his hair, she closed her eyes in 
disgust. As he bent over, lacing his boots, there was a certain 
vulgar gusto in his movement that divided him from the 
reserved, watchful rest of the family. He always ran away 
from the battle with himself. Even in his own heart's privacy, 
he excused himself, saying, "If she hadn't said so-and-so, it 
would never have happened. She asked for what she's got." 
The children waited in restraint during his preparations. When 
he had gone, they sighed with relief. 

He closed the door behind him, and was glad. It was a 
rainy evening. The Palmerston would be the cosier. He 
hastened forward in anticipation. All the slate roofs of the 
Bottoms shone black with wet. The roads, always dark with 
coal-dust, were full of blackish mud. He hastened along. The 
Palmerston windows were steamed over. The passage was 
paddled with wet feet. But the air was warm, if foul, and full 
of the sound of voices and the smell of beer and smoke. 

"What shollt ha'e, Walter?" cried a voice, as soon as Morel 
appeared in the doorway. 

"Oh, Jim, my lad, wheriver has thee sprung frae?" 

The men made a seat for him, and took him in warmly. He 
was glad. In a minute or two they had thawed all responsibility 
out of him, all shame, all trouble, and he was clear as a bell 
for a jolly night. 

On the Wednesday following. Morel was penniless. He 
dreaded his wife. Having hurt her, he hated her. He did not 
know what to do with himself that evening, having not even 
twopence with which to go to the Palmerston, and being 
already rather deeply in debt. So, while his wife was down the 
garden with the child, he hunted in the top drawer of the 
dresser where she kept her purse, found it, and looked inside. It 
contained a half-crown, two halfpennies, and a sixpence. So he 
took the sixpence, put the purse carefully back, and went out. 

The next day, when she wanted to pay the greengrocer, she 
looked in the purse for her sixpence, and her heart sank to her 


shoes. Then she sat down and thought : "Was there a sixpence? 
I hadn't spent it, had I? And I hadn't left it anywhere else?" 

She was much put about. She hunted round ever3rwhere for 
it. And, as she sought, the conviction came into her heart that 
her husband had taken it. What she had in her purse was all 
the money she possessed. But that he should sneak it from her 
thus was unbearable. He had done so twice before. The first 
time she had not accused him, and at the week-end he had put 
the shilling again into her purse. So that was how she had 
known he had taken it. The second time he had not paid 

This time she felt it was too much. When he had had his 
dinner — ^he came home early that day — she said to him coldly : 

"Did you take sixpence out of my purse last night?" 

"Me ! " he said, looking up in an offended way. "No, 1 didna ! 
I niver clapped eyes on your purse." 

But she could detect the lie. 

"Why, you know you did," she said quietly. 

"I tell you 1 didna," he shouted. "Yer at me again, are yer? 
I've had about enough on't." 

"So you filch sixpence out of my purse while I'm taking the 
clothes in." 

"I'll may yer pay for this," he said, pushing back his chair 
in desperation. He bustled and got washed, then went deter- 
minedly upstairs. Presently he came down dressed, and with 
a big bundle in a blue-checked, enormous handkerchief. 

"And now," he said, "you'll see me again when you do." 

"It'll be before I want to," she replied; and at that he 
marched out of the house with his bundle. She sat trembling 
slightly, but her heart brimming with contempt. What would 
she do if he went to some other pit, obtained work, and got 
in with another woman? But she knew him too well — he 
couldn't. She was dead sure of him. Nevertheless her heart 
was gnawed inside her. 

"Where's my dad?" said William, coming in from school. 

"He says he's run away," replied the mother. 

"Where to?" 

"Eh, I don't know. He's taken a bundle in the blue handker- 
chief, and says he's not coming back." 

"What shall we do?" cried the boy. 

"Eh, never trouble, he won't go far." 

"But if he doesn't come back," wailed Annie. 


And she and William retired to the sofa and wept. Mrs. Morel 
sat and laughed. 

"You pair of gabeys! " she exclaimed. "You'll see him before 
the night's out." 

But the children were not to be consoled. Twilight came on. 
Mrs. Morel grew anxious from very weariness. One part of her 
said it would be a relief to see the last of him; another part 
fretted because of keeping the children; and inside her, as yet, 
she could not quite let him go. At the bottom, she knew very 
well he could not go. 

When she went down to the coal-place at the end of the 
garden, however, she felt something behind the door. So she 
looked. And there in the dark lay the big blue bundle. She sat 
on a piece of coal and laughed. Every time she saw it, so fat 
and yet so ignominious, slunk into its corner in the dark, with 
its ends flopping like dejected ears from the knots, she laughed 
again. She was relieved. 

Mrs. Morel sat waiting. He had not any money, she knew, 
so if he stopped he was running up a bill. She was very tired 
of him — tired to death. He had not even the courage to carry 
his bundle beyond the yard-end. 

As she meditated, at about nine o'clock, he opened the door 
and came in, slinking, and yet sulky. She said not a word. He 
took off his coat, and slunk to his arm-chair, where he began to 
take off his boots. 

"You'd better fetch your bundle before you take your boots 
off," she said quietly. 

"You may thank your stars I've come back to-night," he said, 
looking up from under his dropped head, sulkily, trying to be 

"Why, where should you have gone? You daren't even get 
your parcel through the yard-end," she said. 

He looked such a fool she was not even angry with him. He 
continued to take his boots off and prepare for bed. 

"I don't know what's in your blue handkerchief," she said. 
"But if you leave it the children shall fetch it in the morning." 

Whereupon he got up and went out of the house, returning 
presently and crossing the kitchen with averted face, hurrying 
upstairs. As Mrs. Morel saw him slink quickly through the inner 
doorway, holding his bundle, she laughed to herself: but her 
heart was bitter, because she had loved him. 




During the next week Morel's temper was almost unbearable. 
Like all miners, he was a great lover of medicines, which, 
strangely enough, he would often pay for himself. 

"You mun get me a drop o' laxy vitral," he said. "It's a 
winder as we canna ha'e a sup i' th' 'ouse." 

So Mrs. Morel bought him elixir of vitriol, his favourite first 
medicine. And he made himself a jug of wormwood tea. He 
had hanging in the attic great bunches of dried herbs: 
wormwood, rue, horehound, elder flowers, parsley-purt, marsh- 
mallow, hyssop, dandelion, and centaury. Usually there was a 
jug of one or other decoction standing on the hob, from which 
he drank largely. 

"Grand!" he said, smacking his lips after wormwood. 
"Grand ! " And he exhorted the children to try. 

"It's better than any of your tea or your cocoa stews," he 
vowed. But they were not to be tempted. 

This time, however, neither pills nor vitriol nor all his herbs 
would shift the "nasty peens in his head". He was sickening 
for an attack of an inflammation of the brain. He had never 
been well since his sleeping on the ground when he went with 
Jerry to Nottingham. Since then he had drunk and stormed. 
Now he fell seriously ill, and Mrs. Morel had him to nurse. He 
was one of the worst patients imaginable. But, in spite of all, 
and putting aside the fact that he was bread-winner, she never 
quite wanted him to die. Still there was one part of her wanted 
him for herself. 

The neighbours were very good to her: occasionally some 
had the children in to meals, occasionally some would do the 
downstairs work for her, one would mind the baby for a day. 
But it was a great drag, nevertheless. It was not every day the 
neighbours helped. Then she had nursing of baby and husband, 
cleaning and cooking, everything to do. She was quite worn 
out, but she did what was wanted of her. 

And the money was just sufficient. She had seventeen 
shillings a week from clubs, and every Friday Barker and the 
other butty put by a portion of the stall's profits for Morel's 


wife. And the neighbours made broths, and gave eggs, and such 
invalids' trifles. If they had not helped her so generously in 
those times, Mrs. Morel would never have pulled through, with- 
out incurring debts that would have dragged her down. 

The weeks passed. Morel, almost against hope, grew better. 
He had a fine constitution, so that, once on the mend, he went 
straight forward to recovery. Soon he was pottering about 
downstairs. During his illness his wife had spoilt him a little. 
Now he wanted her to continue. He often put his hand to his 
head, pulled down the corners of his mouth, and shammed 
pains he did not feel. But there was no deceiving her. At first 
she merely smiled to herself. Then she scolded him sharply. 

"Goodness, man, don't be so lachrymose." 

That wounded him slightly, but still he continued to feign 

"1 wouldn't be such a mardy baby," said the wife shortly. 

Then he was indignant, and cursed under his breath, like a 
boy. He was forced to resume a normal tone, and to cease to 

Nevertheless, there was a state of peace in the house for some 
time. Mrs. Morel was more tolerant of him, and he, depending 
on her almost like a child, was rather happy. Neither knew 
that she was more tolerant because she loved him less. Up till 
this time, in spite of all, he had been her husband and her man. 
She had felt that, more or less, what he did to himself he did 
to her. Her living depended on him. There were many, many 
stages in the ebbing of her love for him, but it was always 

Now, with the birth of this third baby, her self no longer set 
towards him, helplessly, but was like a tide that scarcely rose, 
standing off from him. After this she scarcely desired him. 
And, standing more aloof from him, not feeling him so much 
part of herself, but merely part of her circumstances, she did 
not mind so much what he did, could leave him alone. 

There was the halt, the wistfulness about the ensuing year, 
which is like autumn in a man's life. His wife was casting him 
off, half regretfully, but relentlessly; casting him off and turn- 
ing now for love and life to the children. Henceforward he 
was more or less a husk. And he himself acquiesced, as so 
many men do, yielding their place to their children. 

During his recuperation, when it was really over between 
them, both made an effort to come back somewhat to the old 


relationship of the first months of their marriage. He sat at 
home and, when the children were in bed, and she was sewing 
— she did all her sewing by hand, made all shirts and children's 
clothing — he would read to her from the newspaper, slowly 
pronouncing and delivering the words like a man pitching 
quoits. Often she hurried him on, giving him a phrase in antici- 
pation. And then he took her words humbly. 

The silences between them were peculiar. There would be 
the swift, slight "cluck" of her needle, the sharp "pop" of his 
lips as he let out the smoke, the warmth, the sizzle on the bars 
as he spat in the fire. Then her thoughts turned to William. 
Already he was getting a big boy. Already he was top of the 
class, and the master said he was the smartest lad in the school. 
She saw him a man, young, full of vigour, making the world 
glow again for her. 

And Morel sitting there, quite alone, and having nothing to 
think about, would be feeling vaguely uncomfortable. His soul 
would reach out in its blind way to her and find her gone. He 
felt a sort of emptiness, almost like a vacuum in his soul. He 
was unsettled and restless. Soon he could not live in that 
atmosphere, and he affected his wife. Both felt an oppression 
on their breathing when they were left together for some time. 
Then he went to bed and she settled down to enjoy herself 
alone, working, thinking, living. 

Meanwhile another infant was coming, fruit of this little 
peace and tenderness between the separating parents. Paul was 
seventeen months old when the new baby was born. He was 
then a plump, pale child, quiet, with heavy blue eyes, and still 
the peculiar slight knitting of the brows. The last child was 
also a boy, fair and bonny. Mrs. Morel was sorry when she 
knew she was with child, both for economic reasons and be- 
cause she did not love her husband; but not for the sake of 
the infant. 

They called the baby Arthur. He was very pretty, with a 
mop of gold curls, and he loved his father from the first. Mrs. 
Morel was glad this child loved the father. Hearing the miner's 
footsteps, the baby would put up his arms and crow. And if 
Morel were in a good temper, he called back immediately, in 
his hearty, mellow voice : 

"What then, my beauty? I sh'll come to thee in a minute." 

And as soon as he had taken off his pit-coat, Mrs. Morel 
would put an apron round the child, and give him to his father. 


"What a sight the lad looks!" she would exclaim some- 
times, taking back the baby, that was smutted on the 
face from his father's kisses and play. Then Morel laughed 

"He's a little collier, bless his bit o' mutton!" he exclaimed. 

And these were the happy moments of her life now, when 
the children included the father in her heart. 

Meanwhile William grew bigger and stronger and more 
active, while Paul, always rather delicate and quiet, got 
slimmer, and trotted after his mother like her shadow. He 
was usually active and interested, but sometimes he would 
have fits of depression. Then the mother would find the boy 
of three or four crying on the sofa. 

"What's the matter?" she asked, and got no answer. 

"What's the matter?" she insisted, getting cross. 

"I don't know," sobbed the child. 

So she tried to reason him out of it, or to amuse him, but 
without effect. It made her feel beside herself. Then the father, 
always impatient, would jump from his chair and shout : 

"If he doesn't stop, I'll smack him till he does." 

"You'll do nothing of the sort," said the mother coldly. 
And then she carried the child into the yard, plumped him 
into his little chair, and said: "Now cry there. Misery!" 

And then a butterfly on the rhubarb-leaves perhaps caught 
his eye, or at last he cried himself to sleep. These fits were 
not often, but they caused a shadow in Mrs. Morel's heart, and 
her treatment of Paul was different from that of the other 

Suddenly one morning as she was looking down the alley of 
the Bottoms for the barm-man, she heard a voice calling her. 
It was the thin little Mrs. Anthony in brown velvet. 

"Here, Mrs. Morel, I want to tell you about your Willie." 

"Oh, do you?" replied Mrs. Morel. "Why, what's the 

"A lad as gets 'old of another an' rips his clothes off'n 'is 
back," Mrs. Anthony said, "wants showing something." 

"Your Alfred's as old as my William," said Mrs. Morel. 

" 'Appen 'e is, but that doesn't give him a right to get hold of 
the boy's collar, an' fair rip it clean off his back." 

"Well," said Mrs. Morel, "I don't thrash my children, and 
even if I did, I should want to hear their side of the tale." 

"They'd happen be a bit better if they did get a good hiding," 


retorted Mrs. Anthony. "When it comes ter rippin' a lad's 
clean collar off'n 'is back a-purpose " 

"I'm sure he didn't do it on purpose/' said Mrs. Morel. 

"Make me a liar!" shouted Mrs. Anthony. 

Mrs. Morel moved away and closed her gate. Her hand 
trembled as she held her mug of barm. 

"But 1 s'U let your mester know," Mrs. Anthony cried after 

At dinner-time, when William had finished his meal and 
wanted to be off again — he was then eleven years old — his 
mother said to him : 

"What did you tear Alfred Anthony's collar for?" 

"When did 1 tear his collar?" 

"1 don't know when, but his mother says you did." 

"Why — ^it was yesterday — an' it was torn a'ready." 

"But you tore it more." 

"Well, I'd got a cobbler as 'ad licked seventeen — an' Alfy 
Ant'ny 'e says : 

'Adam an' Eve an' pinch-me. 
Went down to a river to bade. 

Adam an' Eve got drownded. 
Who do yer think got saved ? ' 

An' so I says : 'Oh, Pinch-you,' an' so I pinched 'im, an' 'e was 
mad, an' so he snatched my cobbler an' run off with it. An' so 
I run after 'im, an' when I was gettin' hold of 'im, 'e dodged, 
an' it ripped 'is collar. But 1 got my cobbler " 

He pulled from his pocket a black old horse-chestnut hanging 
on a string. This old cobbler had "cobbled" — hit and smashed 
— seventeen other cobblers on similar strings. So the boy was 
proud of his veteran. 

"Well," said Mrs. Morel, "you know you've got no right to 
rip his collar." 

"Well, our mother!" he answered. "I never meant tr'a done 
it — an' it was on'y an old indirrubber collar as was torn 

"Next time," said his mother, "you be more careful. 1 
shouldn't like it if you came home with your collar torn 

"I don't care, our mother; I never did it a-purpose." 

The boy was rather miserable at being reprimanded. 


"No — well, you be more careful." 

William fled away, glad to be exonerated. And Mrs. Morel, 
who hated any bother with the neighbours, thought she would 
explain to Mrs. Anthony, and the business would be over. 

But that evening Morel came in from the pit looking very 
sour. He stood in the kitchen and glared round, but did not 
speak for some minutes. Then : 

"Wheer's that Willy?" he asked. 

"What do you want him for?" asked Mrs. Morel, who had 

"I'll let 'im know when I get him," said Morel, banging his 
pit-bottle on to the dresser. 

"1 suppose Mrs. Anthony's got hold of you and been yarn- 
ing to you about Alfy's collar," said Mrs. Morel, rather sneering. 

"Niver mind who's got hold of me," said Morel. "When I 
get hold of 'im I'll make his bones rattle." 

"It's a poor tale," said Mrs. Morel, "that you're so ready to 
side with any snipey vixen who likes to come telling tales 
against your own children." 

"I'll learn 'im!" said Morel. "It none matters to me whose 
lad 'e is; 'e's none goin' rippin' an' tearin' about just as he's a 

"'Ripping and tearing about!'" repeated Mrs. Morel. "He 
was running after that Alfy, who'd taken his cobbler, and he 
accidentally got hold of his collar, because the other dodged — 
as an Anthony would." 

"I know!" shouted Morel threateningly. 

"You would, before you're told," replied his wife bitingly. 

"Niver you mind," stormed Morel. "I know my business." 

"That's more than doubtful," said Mrs. Morel, "supposing 
some loud-mouthed creature had been getting you to thrash 
your own children." 

"I know," repeated Morel. 

And he said no more, but sat and nursed his bad temper. 
Suddenly William ran in, saying : 

"Can I have my tea, mother?" 

"Tha can ha'e more than that!" shouted Morel. 

"Hold your noise, man," said Mrs. Morel; "and don't look so 

"He'll look ridiculous before I've done wi' him!" shouted 
Morel, rising from his chair and glaring at his son. 

William, who was a tall lad for his years, but very sensitive. 


had gone pale, and was looking in a sort of horror at his father. 

"Go out!" Mrs. Morel commanded her son. 

William had not the wit to move. Suddenly Morel clenched 
his fist, and crouched. 

"I'll gi'e him *go out' ! " he shouted like an insane thing. 

"What!" cried Mrs. Morel, panting with rage. "You shall 
not touch him for her telling, you shall not ! " 

"Shonna I?" shouted Morel. "Shonna I?" 

And, glaring at the boy, he ran forward. Mrs. Morel sprang 
in between them, with her fist lifted. 

"Don't you dare!" she cried. 

"What!" he shouted, baffled for the moment. "What!" 

She spun round to her son. 

"Go out of the house!" she commanded him in fury. 

The boy, as if hypnotised by her, turned suddenly and was 
gone. Morel rushed to the door, but was too late. He returned, 
pale under his pit-dirt with fury. But now his wife was fully 

"Only dare ! " she said in a loud, ringing voice. "Only dare, 
milord, to lay a finger on that child! You'll regret it for ever." 

He was afraid of her. In a towering rage, he sat down. 

When the children were old enough to be left, Mrs. Morel 
joined the Women's Guild. It was a little club of women 
attached to the Co-operative Wholesale Society, which met on 
Monday night in the long room over the grocery shop of the 
Bestwood "Co-op". The women were supposed to discuss the 
benefits to be derived from co-operation, and other social 
questions. Sometimes Mrs. Morel read a paper. It seemed 
queer to the children to see their mother, who was always busy 
about the house, sitting writing in her rapid fashion, thinking, 
referring to books, and writing again. They felt for her on such 
occasions the deepest respect. 

But they loved the Guild. It was the only thing to which 
they did not grudge their mother — and that partly because she 
enjoyed it, partly because of the treats they derived from it. 
The Guild was called by some hostile husbands, who found 
their wives getting too independent, the "clat-fart" shop — ^that 
is, the gossip-shop. It is true, from off the basis of the Guild, 
the women could look at their homes, at the conditions of their 
own lives, and find fault. So the colliers found their women 
had a new standard of their own, rather disconcerting. And 
also, Mrs. Morel always had a lot of news on Monday nights. 


SO that the children liked William to be in when their mother 
came home, because she told him things. 

Then, when the lad was thirteen, she got him a job in the 
"Co-op." office. He was a very clever boy, frank, with rather 
rough features and real viking blue eyes. 

"What dost want ter ma'e a stool-harsed Jack on 'im for?" 
said Morel. "All he'll do is to wear his britches behind out, an' 
earn nowt. What's 'e startin' wi'?" 

"It doesn't matter what he's starting with," said Mrs. Morel. 

"It wouldna! Put 'im i' th' pit we me, an' 'e'll earn a easy 
ten shillin' a wik from th' start. But six shillin' wearin' his 
truck-end out on a stool's better than ten shillin' i' th' pit wi' 
me, I know." 

"He is not going in the pit," said Mrs. Morel, "and there's an 
end of it." 

"It wor good enough for me, but it's non good enough for 

"If your mother put you in the pit at twelve, it's no reason 
why I should do the same with my lad." 

"Twelve! It wor a sight afore that!" 

"Whenever it was," said Mrs. Morel. 

She was very proud of her son. He went to the night school, 
and learned shorthand, so that by the time he was sixteen he 
was the best shorthand clerk and book-keeper on the place, 
except one. Then he taught in the night schools. But he was 
so fiery that only his good-nature and his size protected him. 

All the things that men do — the decent things — William did. 
He could run like the wind. When he was twelve he won a 
first prize in a race; an inkstand of glass, shaped like an anvil. 
It stood proudly on the dresser, and gave Mrs. Morel a keen 
pleasure. The boy only ran for her. He flew home with his 
anvil, breathless, with a "Look, mother!" That was the first 
real tribute to herself. She took it like a queen. 

"How pretty!" she exclaimed. 

Then he began to get ambitious. He gave all his money to 
his mother. When he earned fourteen shillings a week, she 
gave him back two for himself, and, as he never drank, he felt 
himself rich. He went about with the bourgeois of Bestwood. 
The townlet contained nothing higher than the clergyman. 
Then came the bank manager, then the doctors, then the trades- 
people, and after that the hosts of colliers. William began to 
consort with the sons of the chemist, the schoolmaster, and the 


tradesmen. He played billiards in the Mechanics' Hall. Also 
he danced — this in spite of his mother. All the life that Best- 
wood oifered he enjoyed, from the sixpenny-hops down Church 
Street, to sports and billiards. 

Paul was treated to dazzling descriptions of all kinds of 
flower-like ladies, most of whom lived like cut blooms in 
William's heart for a brief fortnight. 

Occasionally some flame would come in pursuit of her 
errant swain. Mrs. Morel would find a strange girl at the door, 
and immediately she sniffed the air. 

"Is Mr. Morel in?" the damsel would ask appealingly. 

"My husband is at home," Mrs. Morel replied. 

"I — I mean young Mr. Morel," repeated the maiden painfully. 

"Which one? There are several." 

Whereupon much blushing and stammering from the fair 

"I — I met Mr. Morel — at Ripley," she explained. 

"Oh— at a dance!" 


"I don't approve of the girls my son meets at dances. And 
he is not at home." 

Then he came home angry with his mother for having turned 
the girl away so rudely. He was a careless, yet eager-looking 
fellow, who walked with long strides, sometimes frowning, 
often with his cap pushed joUily to the back of his head. Now 
he came in frowning. He threw his cap on to the sofa, and 
took his strong jaw in his hand, and glared down at his mother. 
She was small, with her hair taken straight back from her fore- 
head. She had a quiet air of authority, and yet of rare warmth. 
Knowing her son was angry, she trembled inwardly. 

"Did a lady call for me yesterday, mother?" he asked. 

"I don't know about a lady. There was a girl came." 

"And why didn't you tell me?" 

"Because I forgot, simply." 

He fumed a little. 

"A good-looking girl — seemed a lady?" 

"I didn't look at her." 

"Big brown eyes?" 

"I did not look. And tell your girls, my son, that when 
they're running after you, they're not to come and ask your 
mother for you. Tell them that — brazen baggages you meet 
at dancing-classes." 


"I'm sure she was a nice girl." 

"And I'm sure she wasn't." 

Ihere ended the altercation. Over the dancing there was a 
great strife between the mother and the son. The grievance 
reached its height when William said he was going to Hucknall 
Torkard — considered a low town — to a fancy-dress ball. He 
was to be a Highlander. There was a dress he could hire, which 
one of his friends had had, and which fitted him perfectly. The 
Highland suit came home. Mrs. Morel received it coldly and 
would not unpack it. 

"My suit come?" cried William. 

"There's a parcel in the front room." 

He rushed in and cut the string. 

"How do you fancy your son in this!" he said, enraptured, 
showing her the suit. 

"You know I don't want to fancy you in it." 

On the evening of the dance, when he had come home to 
dress, Mrs. Morel put on her coat and bonnet. 

"Aren't you going to stop and see me, mother?" he asked. 

"No; I don't want to see you," she replied. 

She was rather pale, and her face was closed and hard. She 
was afraid of her son's going the same way as his father. He 
hesitated a moment, and his heart stood still with anxiety. 
Then he caught sight of the Highland bonnet with its ribbons. 
He picked it up gleefully, forgetting her. She went out. 

When he was nineteen he suddenly left the Co-op. office and 
got a situation in Nottingham. In his new place he had thirty 
shillings a week instead of eighteen. This was indeed a rise. 
His mother and his father were brimmed up with pride. Every- 
body praised William. It seemed he was going to get on rapidly. 
Mrs. Morel hoped, with his aid, to help her younger sons. 
Annie was now studying to be a teacher. Paul, also very clever, 
was getting on well, having lessons in French and German from 
his godfather, the clergyman who was still a friend to Mrs. 
Morel. Arthur, a spoilt and very good-looking boy, was at the 
Board school, but there was talk of his trying to get a scholar- 
ship for the High School in Nottingham. 

William remained a year at his new post in Nottingham. He 
was studying hard, and growing serious. Something seemed to 
be fretting him. Still he went out to the dances and the river 
parties. He did not drink. The children were all rabid tee- 
totallers. He came home very late at night, and sat yet longer 


Studying. His mother implored him to take more care, to do 
one thing or another. 

"Dance, if you want to dance, my son; but don't think you 
can work in the office, and then amuse yourself, and then study 
on top of all. You can't; the human frame won't stand it. Do 
one thing or the other — amuse yourself or learn Latin; but 
don't try to do both." 

Then he got a place in London, at a hundred and twenty a 
year. This seemed a fabulous sum. His mother doubted almost 
whether to rejoice or to grieve. 

"They want me in Lime Street on Monday week, mother," he 
cried, his eyes blazing as he read the letter. Mrs. Morel felt 
everything go silent inside her. He read the letter : " 'And 
will you reply by Thursday whether you accept. Yours faith- 
fully ' They want me, mother, at a hundred and twenty a 

year, and don't even ask to see me. Didn't I tell you 1 could do 
it ! Think of me in London ! And I can give you twenty pounds 
a year, mater. We s'll all be rolling in money." 

"We shall, my son," she answered sadly. 

It never occurred to him that she might be more hurt at his 
going away than glad of his success. Indeed, as the days drew 
near for his departure, her heart began to close and grow dreary 
with despair. She loved him so much! More than that, she 
hoped in him so much. Almost she lived by him. She liked 
to do things for him : she liked to put a cup for his tea and to 
iron his collars, of which he was so proud. It was a joy to her 
to have him proud of his collars. There was no laundry. So 
she used to rub away at them with her little convex iron, to 
polish them, till they shone from the sheer pressure of her arm. 
Now she would not do it for him. Now he was going away. 
She felt almost as if he were going as well out of her heart. 
He did not seem to leave her inhabited with himself. That 
was the grief and the pain to her. He took nearly all himself 

A few days before his departure — he was just twenty — he 
burned his love-letters. They had hung on a file at the top of the 
kitchen cupboard. From some of them he had read extracts to 
his mother. Some of them she had taken the trouble to read 
herself. But most were too trivial. 

Now, on the Saturday morning he said : 

"Come on, Postle, let's go through my letters, and you can 
have the birds and flowers." 


Mrs. Morel had done her Saturday's work on the Friday, 
because he was having a last day's holiday. She was making 
him a rice cake, which he loved, to take with him. He was 
scarcely conscious that she was so miserable. 

He took the first letter off the file. It was mauve-tinted, and 
had purple and green thistles. William sniffed the page. 

"Nice scent ! Smell." 

And he thrust the sheet under Paul's nose. 

"Um!" said Paul, breathing in. "What d'you call it? Smell, 

His mother ducked her small, fine nose down to the paper. 

"/ don't want to smell their rubbish," she said, sniffing. 

"This girl's father," said William, "is as rich as Croesus. He 
owns property without end. She calls me Lafayette, because I 
know French. 'You will see, I've forgiven you' — I like her 
forgiving me. '1 told mother about you this morning, and she 
will have much pleasure if you come to tea on Sunday, but 
she will have to get father's consent also. I sincerely hope he 
will agree. 1 will let you know how it transpires. If, however, 
you ' " 

"'Let you know how it' what?" interrupted Mrs. Morel. 

" 'Transpires' — oh yes ! " 

" 'Transpires ! ' " repeated Mrs. Morel mockingly. "1 thought 
she was so well educated!" 

William felt slightly uncomfortable, and abandoned this 
maiden, giving Paul the comer with the thistles. He continued 
to read extracts from his letters, some of which amused his 
mother, some of which saddened her and made her anxious 
for him. 

"My lad," she said, "they're very wise. They know they've 
only got to flatter your vanity, and you press up to them like a 
dog that has its head scratched." 

"Well, they can't go on scratching for ever," he replied. 
"And when they've done, I trot away." 

"But one day you'll find a string round your neck that you 
can't pull off," she answered. 

"Not me! I'm equal to any of 'em, mater, they needn't 
flatter themselves." 

"You flatter yourself," she said quietly. 

Soon there was a heap of twisted black pages, all that re- 
mained of the file of scented letters, except that Paul had thirty 
or forty pretty tickets from the corners of the notepaper — 


swallows and forget-me-nots and ivy sprays. And William 
went to London, to start a new life. 



Paul would be built like his mother, slightly and rather small. 
His fair hair went reddish, and then dark brown; his eyes were 
grey. He was a pale, quiet child, with eyes that seemed to 
listen, and with a full, dropping underlip. 

As a rule he seemed old for his years. He was so conscious 
of what other people felt, particularly his mother. When she 
fretted he understood, and could have no peace. His soul 
seemed always attentive to her. 

As he grew older he became stronger, William was too far 
removed from him to accept him as a companion. So the 
smaller boy belonged at first almost entirely to Annie. She 
was a tomboy and a "flybie-skybie", as her mother called her. 
But she was intensely fond of her second brother. So Paul was 
towed round at the heels of Annie, sharing her game. She raced 
wildly at lerky with the other young wild-cats of the Bottoms. 
And always Paul flew beside her, living her share of the game, 
having as yet no part of his own. He was quiet and not notice- 
able. But his sister adored him. He always seemed to care for 
things if she wanted him to. ^ 

She had a big doll of which she was ^^^rfiiljy p^-^-^"*^, tv.r>iip>i^ ir 
n ot so^J pad. So she laid the doll on tHe sofa, and covered it 
with an antimacassar, to sleep. Then she forgot it. Meantime 
Paul must practise jumping off the sofa arm. So he jumped 
crash into the face of the hidden doll. Annie rushed up, uttered 
a loud wail, and sat down to weep a dirge. Paul remained quite 

"You couldn't tell it was there, mother; you couldn't tell it 
was there," he repeated over and over. So long as Annie wept 
for the doll he sat helpless with misery. Her grief wore itself 
out. She forgave her brother — he was so much upset. But a 
day or two afterwards she was shocked. 

"Let's make a sacrifice of Arabella," he said. "Let's burn her." 

She was horrified, yet rather fascinated. She wanted to see 
what the boy would do. He made an altar of bricks, pulled 



some of the shavings out of Arabella's body, put the waxen 
fragments into the hollow face, poured on a little paraffin, and 
set the whole thing alight. He watched with wicked satisfac- 
tion the drops of wax melt off the broken forehead of Arabella, 
and drop like sweat into the flame. So long as the stupid big 
doll burned he rejoiced in silence. At the end he poked among 
the embers with a stick, fished out the arms and legs, all 
blackened, and smashed them under stones. 

"That's the sacrifice of Missis Arabella," he said. "An' I'm 
glad there's nothing left of her." 

Which disturbed Annie inwardly, although she could say 
nothing. He seemed to hate the doll so intensely, because he 
had broken it. 

All the children, but particularly Paul, were peculiarly against 
their father, along with their mother. Morel continued to bully 
and to drink. He had periods, months at a time, when he made 
the whole life of the family a misery. Paul never forgot coming 
home from the Band of Hope one Monday evening and finding 
his mother with her eye swollen and discoloured, his father 
standing on the hearth-rug, feet astride, his head down, and 
William, just home from work, glaring at his father. There 
was a silence as the young children entered, but none of the 
elders looked round. 

William was white to the lips, and his fists were clenched. 
He waited until the children were silent, watching with 
children's rage and hate; then he said : 

"You coward, you daren't do it when 1 was in." 

But Morel's blood was up. He swung round on his son. 
William was bigger, but Morel was hard-muscled, and mad 
with fury. 

"Dossn't 1?" he shouted. "Dossn't 1? Ha'e much more o' 
thy chelp, my young jockey, an' I'll rattle my fist about thee. 
Ay, an' I sholl that, dost see?" 

Morel crouched at the knees and showed his fist in an ugly, 
almost beast-like fashion. William was white with rage. 

"Will yer?" he said, quiet and intense. "It 'ud be the last 
time, though." 

Morel danced a little nearer, crouching, drawing back his fist 
to strike. William put his fists ready. A light came into his blue 
eyes, almost like a laugh. He watched his father. Another 
word, and the men would have begun to fight. Paul hoped they 
would. The three children sat pale on the sofa. 


"Stop it, both of you," cried Mrs. Morel in a hard voice. 
"We've had enough for one night. And you," she said, turn- 
ing on to her husband, "look at your children!" 

Morel glanced at the sofa. 

"Look at the children, you nasty little bitch!" he sneered. 
"Why, what have / done to the children, 1 should like to know? 
But they're like yourself; you've put 'em up to your own tricks 
and nasty ways — you've learned 'em in it, you 'ave." 

She refused to answer him. No one spoke. After a while he 
threw his boots under the table and went to bed. 

"Why didn't you let me have a go at him?" said William, 
when his father was upstairs. "1 could easily have beaten him." 

"A nice thing — your own father," she replied. 

'"Father!"' repeated William. "Call him my father!" 

"Well, he is— and so " 

"But why don't you let me settle him? 1 could do, easily." 

"The idea ! " she cried. "It hasn't come to that yet." 

"No," he said, "it's come to worse. Look at yourself. Why 
didn't you let me give it him?" 

"Because I couldn't bear it, so never think of it," she cried 

And the children went to bed, miserably. 

When William was growing up, the family moved from the 
Bottoms to a house on the brow of the hill, commanding a view 
of the valley, which spread out like a convex cockle-shell, or c. 
clamp-shell, before it. In front of the house was a huge old ash- 
tree. The west wind, sweeping from Derbyshire, caught the 
houses with full force, and the tree shrieked again. Morel 
liked it. 

"It's music," he said. "It sends me to sleep." 

But Paul and Arthur and Annie hated it. To Paul it became 
almost a demoniacal noise. The winter of their first year in 
the new house their father was very bad. The children played 
in the street, on the brim of the wide, dark valley, until eight 
o'clock. Then they went to bed. Their mother sat sewing 
below. Having such a great space in front of the house gave 
the children a feeling of night, of vastness, and of terror. This 
terror came in from the shrieking of the tree and the anguish 
of the home discord. Often Paul would wake up, after he had 
been asleep a long time, aware of thuds downstairs. Instantly 
lie was wide awake. Then he heard the booming shouts of his 
father, come home nearly drunk, then the sharp replies of his 


mother, then the bang, bang of his father's fist on the table, 
and the nasty snarling shout as the man's voice got higher. 
And then the whole was drowned in a piercing medley of 
shrieks and cries from the great, wind-swept ash-tree. The 
children lay silent in suspense, waiting for a lull in the wind 
to hear what their father was doing. He might hit their mother 
again. There was a feeling of horror, a kind of bristling in the 
darkness, and a sense of blood. They lay with their hearts in 
the grip of an intense anguish. The wind came through the 
tree fiercer and fiercer. All the cords of the great harp hummed, 
whistled, and shrieked. And then came the horror of the 
sudden silence, silence everywhere, outside and downstairs. 
What was it ? Was it a silence of blood ? What had he done ? 

The children lay and breathed the darkness. And then, at 
last, they heard their father throw down his boots and tramp 
upstairs in his stockinged feet. Still they listened. Then at last, 
if the wind allowed, they heard the water of the tap drumming 
into the kettle, which their mother was filling for morning, and 
they could go to sleep in peace. 

So they were happy in the morning — happy, very happy 
playing, dancing at night round the lonely lamp-post in the 
midst of the darkness. But they had one tight place of anxiety 
in their hearts, one darkness in their eyes, which showed all 
their lives. 

Paul hated his father. As a boy he had a fervent private 

"Make him stop drinking," he prayed every night. "Lord, 
let my father die," he prayed very often. "Let him not be 
killed at pit," he prayed when, after tea, the father did not 
come home from work. 

That was another time when the family suffered intensely. 
The children came from school and had their teas. On the hob 
the big black saucepan was simmering, the stew-jar was in the 
oven, ready for Morel's dinner. He was expected at five o'clock. 
But for months he would stop and drink every night on his way 
from work. 

In the winter nights, when it was cold, and grew dark early, 
Mrs. Morel would put a brass candlestick on the table, light a 
tallow candle to save the gas. The children finished their bread- 
and-butter, or dripping, and were ready to go out to play. But 
if Morel had not come they faltered. The sense of his sitting 
in all his pit-dirt, drinking, after a long day's work, not coming 


home and eating and washing, but sitting, getting drunk, on 
an empty stomach, made Mrs. Morel unable to bear herself. 
From her the feeling was transmitted to the other children. 
She never suffered alone any more : the children suffered with 

Paul went out to play with the rest. Down in the great 
trough of twilight, tiny clusters of lights burned where the pits 
were. A few last colliers straggled up the dim field path. The 
lamplighter came along. No more colliers came. Darkness shut 
down over the valley; work was done. It was night. 

Then Paul ran anxiously into the kitchen. The one candle 
still burned on the table, the big fire glowed red. Mrs. Morel sat 
alone. On the hob the saucepan steamed; the dinner-plate lay 
waiting on the table. All the room was full of the sense of 
waiting, waiting for the man who was sitting in his pit-dirt, 
dinnerless, some mile away from home, across the darkness, 
drinking himself drunk. Paul stood in the doorway. 

"Has my dad come?" he asked. 

"You can see he hasn't," said Mrs. Morel, cross with the 
futility of the question. 

Then the boy dawdled about near his mother. They shared 
the same anxiety. Presently Mrs. Morel went out and strained 
the potatoes. 

"They're ruined and black," she said; "but what do I care?" 

Not many words were spoken. Paul almost hated his mother 
for suffering because his father did not come home from work. 

"What do you bother yourself for?" he said. "If he wants 
to stop and get drunk, why don't you let him?" 

"Let him!" flashed Mrs. Morel. "You may well say 'let 

She knew that the man who stops on the way home from 
work is on a quick way to ruining himself and his home. The 
children were yet young, and depended on the breadwinner. 
William gave her the sense of relief, providing her at last with 
someone to turn to if Morel failed. But the tense atmosphere 
of the room on these waiting evenings was the same. 

The minutes ticked away. At six o'clock still the cloth lay 
on the table, still the dinner stood waiting, still the same sense 
of anxiety and expectation in the room. The boy could not 
stand it any longer. He could not go out and play. So he ran 
in to Mrs. Inger, next door but one, for her to talk to him. She 
had no children. Her husband was good to her but was in a 


shop, and came home late. So, when she saw the lad at the 
door, she called : 

"Come in, Paul." 

The two sat talking for some time, when suddenly the boy 
rose, saying : 

"Well, I'll be going and seeing if my mother wants an errand 

He pretended to be perfectly cheerful, and did not tell his 
friend what ailed him. Then he ran indoors. 

Morel at these times came in churlish and hateful. 

"This is a nice time to come home," said Mrs. Morel. 

"Wha's it matter to yo' what time I come whoam?" he 

And everybody in the house was still, because he was dan- 
gerous. He ate his food in the most brutal manner possible, 
and, when he had done, pushed all the pots in a heap away 
from him, to lay his arms on the table. Then he went to sleep. 

Paul hated his father so. The collier's small, mean head, with 
its black hair slightly soiled with grey, lay on the bare arms, 
and the face, dirty and inflamed, with a fleshy nose and thin, 
paltry brows, was turned sideways, asleep with beer and weari- 
ness and nasty temper. If anyone entered suddenly, or a noise 
were made, the man looked up and shouted : 

"I'll lay my fist about thy y'ead, I'm tellin' thee, if tha doesna 
stop that clatter ! Dost hear?" 

And the two last words, shouted in a bullying fashion, 
usually at Annie, made the family writhe with hate of the 

He was shut out from all family affairs. No one told him 
anything. The children, alone with their mother, told her all 
about the day's happenings, everything. Nothing had really 
taken place in them until it was told to their mother. But as 
soon as the father came in, everything stopped. He was like 
the scotch in the smooth, happy machinery of the home. And 
he was always aware of this fall of silence on his entry, the 
shutting off of life, the unwelcome, v But now itwas_,gatie^oo 

:ar to alter. ' — ' ' 

[e would dearly have liked the children to talk to him, but 
they could not. Sometimes Mrs. Morel would say: 

"You ought to tell your father." 

Paul won a prize in a competition in a child's paper. Every- 
body was highly jubilant. 


"Now you'd better tell your father when he comes in," said 
Mrs. Morel. "You know how he carries on and says he's never 
told anything." 

"All right," said Paul. But he would almost rather have 
forfeited the prize than have to tell his father. 

"I've won a prize in a competition, dad," he said. 

Morel turned round to him. 

"Have you, my boy? What sort of a competition?" 

"Oh, nothing — about famous women." 

"And how much is the prize, then, as you've got?" 

"It's a book." 

"Oh, indeed!" 

"About birds." 

"Hm— hm!" 

And that was all. Conversation was impossible between the 
father and any other member of the family. He was an out- 
sider. He had denied j^f^ CtO^ in h^m , ^-i^-?^ r ^^*:^2^.,^ 

The only times when he entered again into tne life of his 
own people was when he worked, and was happy at work. 
Sometimes, in the evening, he cobbled the boots or mended 
the kettle or his pit-bottle. Then he always wanted several 
attendants, and the children enjoyed it. They united with him 
in the work, in the actual doing of something, when he was 
his real self again. 

He was a good workman, dexterous, and one who, when he 
was in a good humour, always sang. He had whole periods, 
months, almost years, of friction and nasty temper. Then some- 
times he was jolly again. It was nice to see him run with a 
piece of red-hot iron into the scullery, crying : 

"Out of my road — out of my road!" 

Then he hammered the soft, red-glowing stuff on his iron 
goose, and made the shape he wanted. Or he sat absorbed for 
a moment, soldering. Then the children watched with joy as 
the metal sank suddenly molten, and was shoved about against 
the nose of the soldering-iron, while the room was full of a 
scent of burnt resin and hot tin, and Morel was silent and 
intent for a minute. He always sang when he mended boots 
because of the jolly sound of hammering. And he was rather 
happy when he sat putting great patches on his moleskin pit 
trousers, which he would often do, considering them too dirty, 
and the stuif too hard, for his wife to mend. 

But the best time for the young children was when he made 


fuses. Morel fetched a sheaf of long sound wheat-straws from 
the attic. These he cleaned with his hand, till each one gleamed 
like a stalk of gold, after which he cut the straws into lengths 
of about six inches, leaving, if he could, a notch at the bottom 
of each piece. He always had a beautifully sharp knife that 
could cut a straw clean without hurting it. Then he set in the 
middle of the table a heap of gunpowder, a little pile of black 
grains upon the white-scrubbed board. He made and trimmed 
the straws while Paul and Annie filled and plugged them. Paul 
loved to see the black grains trickle down a crack in his palm 
into the mouth of the straw, peppering jollily downwards till 
the straw was full. Then he bunged up the mouth with a bit 
of soap — which he got on his thumb-nail from a pat in a saucer 
— and the straw was finished. 

"Look, dad!" he said. 

"That's right, my beauty," replied Morel, who was peculiarly 
lavish of endearments to his second son. Paul popped the fuse 
into the powder-tin, ready for the morning, when Morel would 
take it to the pit, and use it to fire a shot that would blast the 
coal down. 

Meantime Arthur, still fond of his father, would lean on the 
arm of Morel's chair and say : 

"Tell us about down pit, daddy." 

This Morel loved to do. 

"Well, there's one little 'oss — we call 'im Taffy," he would 
begin. "An' he's a fawce 'un!" 

Morel had a warm way of telling a story. He made one feel 
Taffy's cunning. 

"He's a brown 'un," he would answer, "an' not very high. 
Well, he comes i' th' stall wi' a rattle, an' then yo' 'ear 'im 

" 'Ello, Taff,' you say, 'what art sneezin' for? Bin ta'ein' 
some snuff?' 

"An' 'e sneezes again. Then he slives up an' shoves 'is 'ead 
on yer, that cadin'. 

" 'What's want, Taff?' yo' say." 

"And what does he?" Arthur always asked. 

"He wants a bit o' bacca, my duckie." 

This story of Taffy would go on interminably, and every- 
body loved it. 

Or sometimes it was a new tale. 

"An' what dost think, my darlin' ? When I went to put my 


coat on at snap-time, what should go runnin' up my arm but 
a mouse. 

" 'Hey up, theer!' I shouts. 

"An' I wor just in time ter get 'im by th' tail." 

"And did you kill it?" 

"I did, for they're a nuisance. The place is fair snied wi' 

"An' what do they live on?" 

"The corn as the 'osses drops — an' they'll get in your pocket 
an' eat your snap, if you'll let 'em — no matter where yo' hing 
your coat — the slivin', nibblin' little nuisances, for they are." 

These happy evenings could not take place unless Morel had 
some job to do. And then he always went to bed very early, 
often before the children. There was nothing remaining for 
him to stay up for, when he had finished tinkering, and had 
skimmed the headlines of the newspaper. 

And the children felt secure when their father was in bed. 
They lay and talked softly a while. Then they started as the 
lights went suddenly sprawling over the ceiling from the lamps 
that swung in the hands of the colliers tramping by outside, 
going to take the nine o'clock shift. They listened to the voices 
of the men, imagined them dipping down into the dark valley. 
Sometimes they went to the window and watched the three or 
four lamps growing tinier and tinier, swaying down the fields 
in the darkness. Then it was a joy to rush back to bed and 
cuddle closely in the warmth. 

Paul was rather a delicate boy, subject to bronchitis. The 
others were all quite strong; so this was another reason for 
his mother's difference in feeling for him. One day he came 
home at dinner-time feeling ill. But it was not a family to 
make any fuss. 

"What's the matter with youV his mother asked sharply. 

"Nothing," he repUed. 

But he ate no dinner. 

"If you eat no dinner, you're not going to school," she said. 

"Why?" he asked. 

"That's why." 

So after dinner he lay down on the sofa, on the warm chintz 
cushions the children loved. Then he fell into a kind of doze. 
That afternoon Mrs. Morel was ironing. She listened to the 
small, restless noise the boy made in his throat as she worked. 
Again rose in her heart the old, almost weary feeling towards 


him. She had never expected him to live. And yet he had a 
great vitality in his young body. Perhaps it w^ould have been 
a little relief to her if he had died. She alv^^ays felt a mixture 
of anguish in her love for him. 

He, in his semi-conscious sleep, w^as vaguely aware of the 
clatter of the iron on the iron-stand, of the faint thud, thud on 
the ironing-board. Once roused, he opened his eyes to see his 
mother standing on the hearth-rug w^ith the hot iron near her 
cheek, listening, as it were, to the heat. Her still face, with the 
mouth closed tight from suffering and disillusion and self- 
denial, and her nose the smallest bit on one side, and her blue 
eyes so young, quick, and warm, made his heart contract with 
love. When she was quiet, so, she looked brave and rich with 
life, but as if she had been done out of her rights. It hurt the 
boy keenly, this feeling about her that she had never had her 
life's fulfilment: and his own incapability to make up to her 
hurt him with a sense of impotence, yet made him patiently 
dogged inside. It was his childish aim. 

She spat on the iron, and a little ball of spit bounded, raced 
off the dark, glossy surface. Then, kneeling, she rubbed the 
iron on the sack lining of the hearth-rug vigorously. She was 
warm in the ruddy firelight. Paul loved the way she crouched 
and put her head on one side. Her movements were light and 
quick. It was always a pleasure to watch her. Nothing she 
ever did, no movement she ever made, could have been found 
fault with by her children. The room was warm and full of 
the scent of hot linen. Later on the clergyman came and talked 
softly with her. 

Paul was laid up with an attack of bronchitis. He did not 
mind much. What happened happened, and it was no good 
kicking against the pricks. He loved the evenings, after eight 
o'clock, when the light was put out, and he could watch the 
fire-flames spring over the darkness of the walls and ceiling; 
could watch huge shadows waving and tossing, till the room 
seemed full of men who battled silently. 

On retiring to bed, the father would come into the sick- 
room. He was always very gentle if anyone were ill. But he 
disturbed the atmosphere for the boy. 

"Are ter asleep, my darlin'?" Morel asked softly. 

"No; is my mother comin'?" 

"She's just finishin' foldin' the clothes. Do you want any- 
thing?" Morel rarely "thee'd" his son. 


"I don't want nothing. But how long will she be?" 

"Not long, my duckie." 

The father waited undecidedly on the hearth-rug for a 
moment or two. He felt his son did not want him. Then he 
went to the top of the stairs and said to his wife : 

"This childt's axin' for thee; how long art goin' to be?" 

"Until I've finished, good gracious! Tell him to go to 

"She says you're to go to sleep," the father repeated gently 
to Paul. 

"Well, I want her to come," insisted the boy. 

"He says he can't go off till you come," Morel called down- 

"Eh, dear! I shan't be long. And do stop shouting down- 
stairs. There's the other children " 

Then Morel came again and crouched before the bedroom 
fire. He loved a fire dearly. 

"She says she won't be long," he said. 

He loitered about indefinitely. The boy began to get feverish 
with irritation. His father's presence seemed to aggravate all 
his sick impatience. At last Morel, after having stood looking 
at his son awhile, said softly: 

"Good-night, my darling." 

"Good-night," Paul replied, turning round in relief to be 

Paul loved to sleep with his mother. Sleep is still most 
perfect, in spite of hygienists, when it is shared with a beloved. 
iThe warmth, the security and peace of soul, the utter comfort 
jfrom the touch of the other, knits the sleep, so that it takes the 
)ody and soul completely in its healing. Paul lay against her 
jand slept, and got better; whilst she, always a bad sleeper, fell 
later on into a profound sleep that seemed to give her faith. 

In convalescence he would sit up in bed, see the fluffy horses 
feeding at the troughs in the field, scattering their hay on the 
trodden yellow snow; watch the miners troop home — small, 
)lack figures trailing slowly in gangs across the white field. 
Then the night came up in dark blue vapour from the 

In convalescence everything was wonderful. The snowflakes, 
suddenly arriving on the window-pane, clung there a moment 
like swallows, then were gone, and a drop of water was crawl- 
ing down the glass. The snowflakes whirled round the corner 


of the house, like pigeons dashing by. Away across the valley 
the little black train crawled doubtfully over the great 

While they were so poor, the children were delighted if they 
could do anything to help economically. Annie and Paul and 
Arthur went out early in the morning, in summer, looking for 
mushrooms, hunting through the wet grass, from which the 
larks were rising, for the white-skinned, wonderful naked 
bodies crouched secretly in the green. And if they got half a 
pound they felt exceedingly happy : there was the joy of find- 
ing something, the joy of accepting something straight from 
the hand of Nature, and the joy of contributing to the family 

But the most important harvest, after gleaning for frumenty, 
was the blackberries. Mrs. Morel must buy fruit for puddings 
on the Saturdays; also she liked blackberries. So Paul and 
Arthur scoured the coppices and woods and old quarries, so 
long as a blackberry was to be found, every week-end going 
on their search. In that region of mining villages blackberries 
became a comparative rarity. But Paul hunted far and wide. 
He loved being out in the country, among the bushes. But he 
also could not bear to go home to his mother empty. That, he 
felt, would disappoint her, and he would have died rather. 

"Good gracious!" she would exclaim as the lads came in, 
late, and tired to death, and hungry, "wherever have you 

"Well," replied Paul, "there wasn't any, so we went over 
Misk Hills. And look here, our mother ! " 

She peeped into the basket. 

"Now, those are fine ones!" she exclaimed. 

"And there's over two pounds — isn't there over two pounds?" 

She tried the basket. 

"Yes," she answered doubtfully. 

Then Paul fished out a little spray. He always brought her 
one spray, the best he could find. 

"Pretty ! " she said, in a curious tone, of a woman accepting 
a love-token. 

The boy walked all day, went miles and miles, rather than 
own himself beaten and come home to her empty-handed. She 
never realised this, whilst he was young. She was a woman 
who waited for her children to grow up. And William occupied 
her chiefly. 


But when William went to Nottingham, and was not so much 
at home, the mother made a companion of Paul. The latter was 
unconsciously jealous of his brother, and William was jealous 
of him. At the same time, they were good friends. 

Mrs. Morel's intimacy with her second son was more subtle 
and fine, perhaps not so passionate as with her eldest. It was the 
rule that Paul should fetch the money on Friday afternoons. The 
colliers of the five pits were paid on Fridays, but not individu- 
ally. All the earnings of each stall were put down to the chief 
butty, as contractor, and he divided the wages again, either in 
the public-house or in his own home. So that the children could 
fetch the money, school closed early on Friday afternoons. Each 
of the Morel children — William, then Annie, then Paul — had 
fetched the money on Friday afternoons, until they went them- 
selves to work. Paul used to set off at half-past three, with a 
little calico bag in his pocket. Down all the paths, women, girls, 
children, and men were seen trooping to the offices. 

These offices were quite handsome : a new, red-brick build- 
ing, almost like a mansion, standing in its own grounds at the 
end of Greenhill Lane. The waiting-room was the hall, a long, 
bare room paved with blue brick, and having a seat all round, 
against the wall. Here sat the colliers in their pit-dirt. They 
had come up early. The women and children usually loitered 
about on the red gravel paths. Paul always examined the grass 
border, and the big grass bank, because in it grew tiny pansies 
and tiny forget-me-nots. There was a sound of many voices. 
The women had on their Sunday hats. The girls chattered 
loudly. Little dogs ran here and there. The green shrubs were 
silent all around. 

Then from inside came the cry "Spinney Park — Spinney 
Park." All the folk for Spinney Park trooped inside. When it 
was time for Bretty to be paid, Paul went in among the crowd. 
The pay-room was quite small. A counter went across, dividing 
it into half. Behind the counter stood two men — Mr. Braith- 
waite and his clerk, Mr. Winterbottom. Mr. Braithwaite was 
large, somewhat of the stern patriarch in appearance, having a 
rather thin white beard. He was usually muffled in an enormous 
silk neckerchief, and right up to the hot summer a huge fire 
burned in the open grate. No window was open. Sometimes 
in winter the air scorched the throats of the people, coming in 
from the freshness. Mr. Winterbottom was rather small and 
fat, and very bald. He made remarks that were not witty. 


whilst his chief launched forth patriarchal admonitions against 
the colliers. 

The room was crowded with miners in their pit-dirt, men 
who had been home and changed, and women, and one or two 
children, and usually a dog. Paul was quite small, so it was 
often his fate to be jammed behind the legs of the men, near 
the fire which scorched him. He knew the order of the names 
— they went according to stall number. 

"Holliday," came the ringing voice of Mr. Braithwaite. Then 
Mrs. HoUiday stepped silently forward, was paid, drew aside. 

"Bower — John Bower." 

A boy stepped to the counter. Mr. Braithwaite, large and 
irascible, glowered at him over his spectacles. 

"John Bower!" he repeated. 

"It's me," said the boy. 

"Why, you used to 'ave a different nose than that," said 
glossy Mr. Winterbottom, peering over the counter. The people 
tittered, thinking of John Bower senior. 

"How is it your father's not come!" said Mr. Braithwaite, in 
a large and magisterial voice. 

"He's badly," piped the boy. 

"You should tell him to keep off the drink," pronounced the 
great cashier. 

"An' niver mind if he puts his foot through yer," said a 
mocking voice from behind. 

All the men laughed. The large and important cashier looked 
down at his next sheet. 

"Fred Pilkington!" he called, quite indifferent. 

Mr. Braithwaite was an important shareholder in the firm. 

Paul knew his turn was next but one, and his heart began to 
beat. He was pushed against the chimney-piece. His calves 
were burning. But he did not hope to get through the wall of 

"Walter Morel ! " came the ringing voice. 

"Here!" piped Paul, small and inadequate. 

"Morel — Walter Morel!" the cashier repeated, his finger and 
thumb on the invoice, ready to pass on. 

Paul was suffering convulsions of self-consciousness, and 
could not or would not shout. The backs of the men obliterated 
him. Then Mr. Winterbottom came to the rescue. 

"He's here. Where is he? Morel's lad?" 

The fat, red, bald little man peered round with keen eyes. 


He pointed at the fireplace. The colliers looked round, moved 
aside, and disclosed the boy. 

"Here he is!" said Mr. Winterbottom. 

Paul went to the counter. 

"Seventeen pounds eleven and fivepence. Why don't you 
shout up when you're called?" said Mr. Braithwaite. He banged 
on to the invoice a five-pound bag of silver, then in a delicate 
and pretty movement, picked up a little ten-pound column of 
gold, and plumped it beside the silver. The gold slid in a bright 
stream over the paper. The cashier finished counting off the 
money; the boy dragged the whole down the counter to Mr. 
Winterbottom, to whom the stoppages for rent and tools must 
be paid. Here he suffered again. 

"Sixteen an' six," said Mr. Winterbottom. 

The lad was too much upset to count. He pushed forward 
some loose silver and half a sovereign. 

"How much do you think you've given me?" asked Mr. 

The boy looked at him, but said nothing. He had not the 
faintest notion. 

"Haven't you got a tongue in your head?" 

Paul bit his lip, and pushed forward some more silver. 

"Don't they teach you to count at the Board-school?" he 

"Nowt but algibbra an' French," said a collier. 

"An' cheek an' impidence," said another. 

Paul was keeping someone waiting. With trembling fingers 
he got his money into the bag and slid out. He suffered the 
tortures of the damned on these occasions. 

His relief, when he got outside, and was walking along the 
Mansfield Road, was infinite. On the park wall the mosses were 
green. There were some gold and some white fowls pecking 
under the apple trees of an orchard. The colliers were walking 
home in a stream. The boy went near the wall, self-consciously. 
He knew many of the men, but could not recognise them in 
their dirt. And this was a new torture to him. 

When he got down to the New Inn, at Bretty, his father was 
not yet come. Mrs. Wharmby, the landlady, knew him. His 
grandmother. Morel's mother, had been Mrs. Wharmby's friend. 

"Your father's not come yet," said the landlady, in the 
peculiar half-scornful, half-patronising voice of a woman who 
talks chiefly to grown men. "Sit you down." 


Paul sat down on the edge of the bench in the bar. Some 
coUiers were "reckoning" — sharing out their money — in a 
corner; others came in. They all glanced at the boy without 
speaking. At last Morel came; brisk, and with something of an 
air, even in his blackness. 

"Hello ! " he said rather tenderly to his son. "Have you bested 
me? Shall you have a drink of something?" 

Paul and all the children were bred up fierce anti-alcoholists, 
and he would have suffered more in drinking a lemonade before 
all the men than in having a tooth drawn. 

The landlady looked at him de haul en has, rather pitying, 
and at the same time, resenting his clear, fierce morality. Paul 
went home, glowering. He entered the house silently. Friday 
was baking day, and there was usually a hot bun. His mother 
put it before him. 

Suddenly he turned on her in a fury, his eyes flashing : 

"I'm not going to the office any more," he said. 

"Why, what's the matter?" his mother asked in surprise. His 
sudden rages rather amused her. 

"I'm not going any more," he declared. 

"Oh, very well, tell your father so." 

He chewed his bun as if he hated it. 

"I'm not — I'm not going to fetch the money." 

"Then one of Carlin's children can go; they'd be glad enough 
of the sixpence," said Mrs. Morel. 

This sixpence was Paul's only income. It mostly went in buy- 
ing birthday presents; but it was an income, and he treasured 
it. But 

"They can have it, then ! " he said. "I don't want it." 

"Oh, very well," said his mother. "But you needn't bully 
me about it." 

"They're hateful, and common, and hateful, they are, and 
I'm not going any more. Mr. Braithwaite drops his 'h's', an' Mr. 
Winterbottom says 'You was'." 

"And is that why you won't go any more?" smiled Mrs. 

The boy was silent for some time. His face was pale, his 
eyes dark and furious. His mother moved about at her work, 
taking no notice of him. 

"They always stan' in front of me, so's I can't get out," he 

"Well, my lad, you've only to ask them," she replied. 


"An' then Alfred Winterbottom says, 'What do they teach 
you at the Board-school?' " 

"They never taught him much/' said Mrs. Morel, "that is a 
fact — neither manners nor wit — and his cunning he was bom 

So, in her own way, she soothed him. His ridiculous hyper- 
sensitiveness made her heart ache. And sometimes the fury in 
his eyes roused her, made her sleeping soul lift up its head a 
moment, surprised. 

"What was the cheque?" she asked. 

"Seventeen pounds eleven and fivepence, and sixteen and six 
stoppages," replied the boy. "It's a good week; and only five 
shillings stoppages for my father." 

So she was able to calculate how much her husband had 
earned, and could call him to account if he gave her short 
money. Morel always kept to himself the secret of the week's 

Friday was the baking night and market night. It was the 
rule that Paul should stay at home and bake. He loved to stop 
in and draw or read; he was very fond of drawing. Annie 
always "gallivanted" on Friday nights; Arthur was enjoying 
himself as usual. So the boy remained alone. 

Mrs. Morel loved her marketing. In the tiny market-place on 
the top of the hill, where four roads, from Nottingham and 
Derby, Ilkeston and Mansfield, meet, many stalls were erected. 
Brakes ran in from surrounding villages. The market-place was 
full of women, the streets packed with men. It was amazing to 
see so many men everywhere in the streets. Mrs. Morel usually 
quarrelled with her lace woman, sympathised with her fruit 
man — ^who was a gabey, but his wife was a bad 'un — laughed 
with the fish man — who was a scamp but so droll — put the 
linoleum man in his place, was cold with the odd-wares man, 
and only went to the crockery man when she was driven — or 
drawn by the cornflowers on a little dish; then she was coldly 

"I wondered how much that little dish was," she said. 

"Sevenpence to you." 

"Thank you." 

She put the dish down and walked away; but she could not 
leave the market-place without it. Again she went by where 
the pots lay coldly on the floor, and she glanced at the dish 
furtively, pretending not to. 


She was a little woman, in a bonnet and a black costume. 
Her bonnet was in its third year; it was a great grievance to 

"Mother!" the girl implored, "don't wear that nubbly little 

"Then what else shall I wear," replied the mother tartly. 
"And I'm sure it's right enough." 

It had started with a tip; then had had flowers; now was 
reduced to black lace and a bit of jet. 

"It looks rather come down," said Paul. "Couldn't you give 
it a pick-me-up?" 

"I'll jowl your head for impudence," said Mrs. Morel, and 
she tied the strings of the black bonnet valiantly under her 

She glanced at the dish again. Both she and her enemy, the 
pot man, had an uncomfortable feeling, as if there were some- 
thing between them. Suddenly he shouted: 

"Do you want it for fivepence?" 

She started. Her heart hardened; but then she stooped and 
took up her dish. 

"I'll have it," she said. 

"Yer'll do me the favour, like?" he said. "Yer'd better spit 
in it, like yer do when y'ave something give yer." 

Mrs. Morel paid him the fivepence in a cold manner. 

"I don't see you give it me," she said. "You wouldn't let me 
have it for fivepence if you didn't want to." 

"In this flamin', scrattlin' place you may count yerself lucky 
if you can give your things away," he growled. 

"Yes; there are bad times, and good," said Mrs. Morel. 

But she had forgiven the pot man. They were friends. She 
dare now finger his pots. So she was happy. 

Paul was waiting for her. He loved her home-coming. She 
was always her best so — triumphant, tired, laden with parcels, 
feeling rich in spirit. He heard her quick, light step in the entry 
and looked up from his drawing. 

"Oh!" she sighed, smiling at him from the doorway. 

"My word, you are loaded!" he exclaimed, putting down his 

"1 am!" she gasped. "That brazen Annie said she'd meet me. 
Such a weight!" 

She dropped her string bag and her packages on the table. 

"Is the bread done?" she asked, going to the oven. 


"The last one is soaking," he replied. "You needn't look, 
I've not forgotten it." 

"Oh, that pot man!" she said, closing the oven door. "You 
know what a wretch I've said he was ? Well, I don't think he's 
quite so bad." 

"Don't you?" 

The boy was attentive to her. She took off her little black 

"No. I think he can't make any money — well, it's every- 
body's cry alike nowadays — and it makes him disagreeable." 

"It would me," said Paul. 

"Well, one can't wonder at it. And he let me have — ^how 
much do you think he let me have this for?" 

She took the dish out of its rag of newspaper, and stood 
looking on it with joy. 

"Show me!" said Paul. 

The two stood together gloating over the dish. 

"I love cornflowers on things," said Paul. 

"Yes, and 1 thought of the teapot you bought me " 

"One and three," said Paul. 

"Fivepence ! " 

"It's not enough, mother." 

"No. Do you know, I fairly sneaked off with it. But I'd been 
extravagant, I couldn't afford any more. And he needn't have 
let me have it if he hadn't wanted to." 

"No, he needn't, need he," said Paul, and the two comforted 
each other from the fear of having robbed the pot man. 

"We c'n have stewed fruit in it," said Paul. 

"Or custard, or a jelly," said his mother. 

"Or radishes and lettuce," said he. 

"Don't forget that bread," she said, her voice bright with 

Paul looked in the oven; tapped the loaf on the base. 

"It's done," he said, giving it to her. 

She tapped it also. 

"Yes," she replied, going to unpack her bag. "Oh, and I'm 
a wicked, extravagant woman. I know I s'll come to want." 

He hopped to her side eagerly, to see her latest extravagance. 
She unfolded another lump of newspaper and disclosed some 
roots of pansies and of crimson daisies. 

"Four penn'orth!" she moaned. 

"How cheap \" he cried. 


"Yes, but I couldn't afford it this week of all weeks." 

"But lovely ! " he cried. 

"Aren't they!" she exclaimed, giving way to pure joy. "Paul, 
look at this yellow one, isn't it — and a face just like an old 

"Just!" cried Paul, stooping to sniff. "And smells that nice! 
But he's a bit splashed." 

He ran in the scullery, came back with the flannel, and care- 
fully washed the pansy. 

"Now look at him now he's wet!" he said. 

"Yes!" she exclaimed, brimful of satisfaction. 

Tht children of Scargill Street felt quite select. At the end 
where the Morels lived there were not many young things. So 
the few were more united. Boys and girls played together, the 
girls joining in the fights and the rough games, the boys taking 
part in the dancing games and rings and make-belief of the 

Annie and Paul and Arthur loved the winter evenings, when 
it was not wet. They stayed indoors till the colliers were all 
gone home, till it was thick dark, and the street would be 
deserted. Then they tied their scarves round their necks, for 
they scorned overcoats, as all the colliers' children did, and 
went out. The entry was very dark, and at the end the whole 
great night opened out, in a hollow, with a little tangle of 
lights below where Minton pit lay, and another far away 
opposite for Selby. The farthest tiny lights seemed to stretch 
out the darkness for ever. The children looked anxiously 
down the road at the one lamp-post, which stood at the end 
of the field path. If the little, luminous space were deserted, 
the two boys felt genuine desolation. They stood with their 
hands in their pockets under the lamp, turning their backs on 
the night, quite miserable, watching the dark houses. Suddenly 
a pinafore under a short coat was seen, and a long-legged girl 
came flying up. 

"Where's Billy Pillins an' your Annie an' Eddie Dakin?" 

"I don't know." 

But it did not matter so much — there were three now. They 
set up a game round the lamp-post, till the others rushed up, 
yelling. Then the play went fast and furious. 

There was only this one lamp-post. Behind was the great 
scoop of darkness, as if all the night were there. In front, 
another wide, dark way opened over the hill brow. Occa- 


sionally somebody came out of this way and went into the 
field down the path. In a dozen yards the night had swallowed 
them. The children played on. 

They were brought exceedingly close together owing to their 
isolation. If a quarrel took place, the whole play was spoilt. 
Arthur was very touchy, and Billy Pillins — really Philips — was 
worse. Then Paul had to side with Arthur, and on Paul's side 
went Alice, while Billy Pillins always had Emmie Limb and 
Eddie Dakin to back him up. Then the six would fight, hate 
with a fury of hatred, and flee home in terror. Paul never 
forgot, after one of these fierce internecine fights, seeing a big 
red moon lift itself up, slowly, between the waste road over 
the hill-top, steadily, like a great bird. And he thought of the 
Bible, that the moon should be turned to blood. And the next 
day he made haste to be friends with Billy Pillins. And then 
the wild, intense games went on again under the lamp-post, 
surrounded by so much darkness. Mrs. Morel, going into her 
parlour, would hear the children singing away: 

"My shoes are made of Spanish leather. 
My socks are made of silk; 
I wear a ring on every finger, 
I wash myself in milk." 

They sounded so perfectly absorbed in the game as their 
voices came out of the night, that they had the feel of wild 
creatures singing. It stirred the mother; and she understood 
when they came in at eight o'clock, ruddy, with brilliant eyes, 
and quick, passionate speech. 

They all loved the Scargill Street house for its openness, for 
the great scallop of the world it had in view. On summer 
evenings the women would stand against the field fence, gossip- 
ing, facing the west, watching the sunsets flare quickly out, till 
the Derbyshire hills ridged across the crimson far away, like 
the black crest of a newt. 

In this summer season the pits never turned full time, 
particularly the soft coal. Mrs. Dakin, who lived next door 
to Mrs. Morel, going to the field fence to shake her hearth-rug, 
would spy men coming slowly up the hill. She saw at once 
they were colliers. Then she waited, a tall, thin, shrew-faced 
woman, standing on the hill brow, almost like a menace to the 
poor colliers who were toiling up. It was only eleven o'clock. 


From the far-off wooded hills the haze that hangs like fine 
black crape at the back of a summer morning had not yet 
dissipated. The first man came to the stile. "Chock-chock!" 
went the gate under his thrust. 

"What, han' yer knocked off?" cried Mrs. Dakin. 

"We han, missis." 

"It's a pity as they letn yer goo," she said sarcastically. 

"It is that," replied the man. 

"Nay, you know you're flig to come up again," she said. 

And the man went on. Mrs. Dakin, going up her yard, spied 
Mrs. Morel taking the ashes to the ash-pit. 

"I reckon Minton's knocked off, missis," she cried. 

"Isn't it sickenin!" exclaimed Mrs. Morel in wrath. 

"Ha! But Vn just seed Jont Hutchby." 

"They might as well have saved their shoe-leather," said 
Mrs. Morel. And both women went indoors disgusted. 

The colliers, their faces scarcely blackened, were trooping 
home again. Morel hated to go back. He loved the sunny 
morning. But he had gone to pit to work, and to be sent home 
again spoilt his temper. 

"Good gracious, at this time!" exclaimed his wife, as he 

"Can I help it, woman?" he shouted. 

"And I've not done half enough dinner." 

"Then I'll eat my bit o' snap as I took with me," he bawled 
pathetically. He felt ignominious and sore. 

And the children, coming home from school, would wonder 
to see their father eating with his dinner the two thick slices 
of rather dry and dirty bread-and-butter that had been to pit 
and back. 

"What's my dad eating his snap for now?" asked Arthur. 

"I should ha'e it holled at me if I didna," snorted Morel. 

"What a story!" exclaimed his wife. 

"An' is it goin' to be wasted?" said Morel. "I'm not such a 
extravagant mortal as you lot, with your waste. If I drop a 
bit of bread at pit, in all the dust an' dirt, I pick it up an' 
eat it." 

"The mice would eat it," said Paul. "It wouldn't be wasted." 

"Good bread-an'-butter's not for mice, either," said Morel. 
"Dirty or not dirty, I'd eat it rather than it should be wasted." 

"You might leave it for the mice and pay for it out of your 
next pint," said Mrs. Morel. 


"Oh, might I?" he exclaimed. 

They were very poor that autumn. William had just gone 
away to London, and his mother missed his money. He sent 
ten shillings once or twice, but he had many things to pay for 
at first. His letters came regularly once a week. He wrote a 
good deal to his mother, telling her all his life, how he made 
friends, and was exchanging lessons with a Frenchman, how 
he enjoyed London. His mother felt again he was remaining 
to her just as when he was at home. She wrote to him every 
week her direct, rather witty letters. All day long, as she 
cleaned the house, she thought of him. He was in London: 
he would do well. Almost, he was like her knight who wore 
her favour in the battle. 

He was coming at Christmas for five days. There had never 
been such preparations. Paul and Arthur scoured the land for 
holly and evergreens. Annie made the pretty paper hoops in 
the old-fashioned way. And there was unheard-of extravagance 
in the larder. Mrs. Morel made a big and magnificent cake. 
Then, feeling queenly, she showed Paul how to blanch 
almonds. He skinned the long nuts reverently, counting them 
all, to see not one was lost. It was said that eggs whisked 
better in a cold place. So the boy stood in the scullery, where 
the temperature was nearly at freezing-point, and whisked and 
whisked, and flew in excitement to his mother as the white 
of egg grew stiffer and more snowy. 

"Just look, mother! Isn't it lovely?" 

And he balanced a bit on his nose, then blew it in the air. 

"Now, don't waste it," said the mother. 

Everybody was mad with excitement. William was coming 
on Christmas Eve. Mrs. Morel surveyed her pantry. There was 
a big plum cake, and a rice cake, jam tarts, lemon tarts, and 
mince-pies — two enormous dishes. She was finishing cooking — 
Spanish tarts and cheese-cakes. Everywhere was decorated. 
The kissing bunch of berried holly hung with bright and 
glittering things, spun slowly over Mrs. Morel's head as she 
trimmed her little tarts in the kitchen. A great fire roared. 
There was a scent of cooked pastry. He was due at seven 
o'clock, but he would be late. The three children had gone 
to meet him. She was alone. But at a quarter to seven Morel 
came in again. Neither wife nor husband spoke. He sat in 
his arm-chair, quite awkward with excitement, and she quietly 
went on with her baking. Only by the careful way in which 


she did things could it be told how much moved she was. The 
clock ticked on. 

"What time dost say he's coming?" Morel asked for the fifth 

"The train gets in at half-past six," she replied emphatically. 

"Then he'll be here at ten past seven." 

"Eh, bless you, it'll be hours late on the Midland," she said 
indifferently. But she hoped, by expecting him late, to bring 
him early. Morel went down the entry to look for him. Then 
he came back. 

"Goodness, man!" she said. "You're like an ill-sitting hen." 

"Hadna you better be gettin' him summat t' eat ready?" 
asked the father. 

"There's plenty of time," she answered. 

"There's not so much as I can see on," he answered, turn- 
ing crossly in his chair. She began to clear her table. The kettle 
was singing. They waited and waited. 

Meantime the three children were on the platform at Sethley 
Bridge, on the Midland main line, two miles from home. They 
waited one hour. A train came — he was not there. Down the 
line the red and green lights shone. It was very dark and very 

"Ask him if the London train's come," said Paul to Annie, 
when they saw a man in a tip cap. 

"I'm not," said Annie. "You be quiet — he might send us off." 

But Paul was dying for the man to know they were expect- 
ing someone by the London train: it sounded so grand. Yet 
he was much too much scared of broaching any man, let alone 
one in a peaked cap, to dare to ask. The three children could 
scarcely go into the waiting-room for fear of being sent away, 
and for fear something should happen whilst they were off the 
platform. Still they waited in the dark and cold. 

"It's an hour an' a half late," said Arthur pathetically. 

"Well," said Annie, "it's Christmas Eve." 

They all grew silent. He wasn't coming. They looked down 
the darkness of the railway. There was London! It seemed 
the uttermost of distance. They thought anything might 
happen if one came from London. They were all too troubled 
to talk. Cold, and unhappy, and silent, they huddled together 
on the platform. 

At last, after more than two hours, they saw the lights of an 
engine peering round, away down the darkness. A porter ran 


out. The children drew back with beating hearts. A great train, 
bound for Manchester, drew up. Two doors opened, and from 
one of them, William. They flew to him. He handed parcels 
to them cheerily, and immediately began to explain that this 
great train had stopped for his sake at such a small station as 
Sethley Bridge : it was not booked to stop. 

Meanwhile the parents were getting anxious. The table was 
set, the chop was cooked, everything was ready. Mrs. Morel 
put on her black apron. She was wearing her best dress. Then 
she sat, pretending to read. The minutes were a torture to 

"H'm!" said Morel. "It's an hour an' a ha'ef." 

"And those children waiting!" she said. 

"Th' train canna ha' come in yet," he said. 

"I tell you, on Christmas Eve they're hours wrong." 

They were both a bit cross with each other, so gnawed with 
anxiety. The ash tree moaned outside in a cold, raw wind. 
And all that space of night from London home! Mrs. Morel 
suffered. The slight click of the works inside the clock irritated 
her. It was getting so late; it was getting unbearable. 

At last there was a sound of voices, and a footstep in the 

"Ha's here!" cried Morel, jumping up. 

Then he stood back. The mother ran a few steps towards 
the door and waited. There was a rush and a patter of feet, the 
door burst open. William was there. He dropped his Gladstone 
bag and took his mother in his arms. 

"Mater!" he said. 

"My boy!" she cried. 

And for two seconds, no longer, she clasped him and kissed 
him. Then she withdrew and said, trying to be quite normal : 

"But how late you are!" 

"Aren't I!" he cried, turning to his father. "Well, dad!" 

The two men shook hands. 

"Well, my lad!" 

Morel's eyes were wet. 

"We thought tha'd niver be commin'," he said. 

"Oh, I'd come!" exclaimed William. 

Then the son turned round to his mother. 

"But you look well," she said proudly, laughing. 

"Well!" he exclaimed. "I should think so — coming home!" 

He was a fine fellow, big, straight, and fearless-looking. He 


looked round at the evergreens and the kissing bunch, and the 
Httle tarts that lay in their tins on the hearth. 

"By jove! mother, it's not different!" he said, as if in relief. 

Everybody w^as still for a second. Then he suddenly sprang 
forward, picked a tart from the hearth, and pushed it whole 
into his mouth. 

"Well, did iver you see such a parish oven!" the father 

He had brought them endless presents. Every penny he had 
he had spent on them. There was a sense of luxury overflowing 
in the house. For his mother there was an umbrella with gold 
on the pale handle. She kept it to her dying day, and would 
have lost anything rather than that. Everybody had some- 
thing gorgeous, and besides, there were pounds of unknown 
sweets: Turkish delight, crystallised pineapple, and such-like 
things which, the children thought, only the splendour of 
London could provide. And Paul boasted of these sweets 
among his friends. 

■'Real pineapple, cut off in slices, and then turned into 
crystal — fair grand!" 

Everybody was mad with happiness in the family. Home 
was home, and they loved it with a passion of love, whatever 
the suffering had been. There were parties, there were re- 
joicings. People came in to see William, to see what differ- 
ence London had made to him. And they all found him "such 
a gentleman, and such a fine fellow, my word" ! 

When he went away again the children retired to various 
places to weep alone. Morel went to bed in misery, and Mrs. 
Morel felt as if she were numbed by some drug, as if her feel- 
ings were paralysed. She loved him passionately. 

He was in the office of a lawyer connected with a large ship- 
ping firm, and at the midsummer his chief offered him a trip 
in the Mediterranean on one of the boats, for quite a small 
cost. Mrs. Morel wrote: "Go, go, my boy. You may never 
have a chance again, and I should love to think of you cruising 
there in the Mediterranean almost better than to have you at 
home." But William came home for his fortnight's holiday. 
Not even the Mediterranean, which pulled at all his young 
man's desire to travel, and at his poor man's wonder at the 
glamorous south, could take him away when he might come 
home. That compensated his mother for much. 




Morel was rather a heedless man, careless of danger. So he 
had endless accidents. Now, when Mrs. Morel heard the rattle 
of an empty coal-cart cease at her entry-end, she ran into the 
parlour to look, expecting almost to see her husband seated in 
the wagon, his face grey under his dirt, his body limp and 
sick with some hurt or other. If it were he, she would run 
out to help. 

About a year after William went to London, and just after 
Paul had left school, before he got work, Mrs. Morel was up- 
stairs and her son was painting in the kitchen — he was very 
clever with his brush — ^when there came a knock at the door. 
Crossly he put down his brush to go. At the same moment his 
mother opened a window upstairs and looked down. 

A pit-lad in his dirt stood on the threshold. 

"Is this Walter Morel's?" he asked. 

"Yes," said Mrs. Morel. "What is it?" 

But she had guessed already. 

"Your mester's got hurt," he said. 

"Eh, dear me!" she exclaimed. "It's a wonder if he hadn't, 
lad. And what's he done this time?" 

"I don't know for sure, but it's 'is leg somewhere. They 
ta'ein' 'im ter th' 'ospital." 

"Good gracious me!" she exclaimed. "Eh, dear, what a one 
he is ! There's not five minutes of peace, I'll be hanged if there 
is! His thumb's nearly better, and now Did you see him?" 

"I seed him at th' bottom. An' I seed 'em bring 'im up in a 
tub, an' 'e wor in a dead faint. But he shouted like anythink 
when Doctor Eraser examined him i' th' lamp cabin — an' 
cossed an' swore, an' said as 'e wor goin' to be ta'en whoam — 
'e worn't goin' ter th' 'ospital." 

The boy faltered to an end. 

"He would want to come home, so that I can have all the 
bother. Thank you, my lad. Eh, dear, if I'm not sick — sick 
and surfeited, I am!" 

She came downstairs. Paul had mechanically resumed his 

"And it must be pretty bad if they've taken him to the 


hospital," she went on. "But what a careless creature he is! 
Other men don't have all these accidents. Yes, he would want 
to put all the burden on me. Eh, dear, just as we were getting 
easy a bit at last. Put those things away, there's no time to be 
painting now. What time is there a train ? I know I s'll have to 
go trailing to Keston. I s*ll have to leave that bedroom." 

"I can finish it," said Paul. 

"You needn't. I shall catch the seven o'clock back, I should 
think. Oh, my blessed heart, the fuss and commotion he'll 
make! And those granite setts at Tinder Hill — he might well 
call them kidney pebbles — they'll jolt him almost to bits. I 
wonder why they can't mend them, the state they're in, an' 
all the men as go across in that ambulance. You'd think they'd 
have a hospital here. The men bought the ground, and, my 
sirs, there'd be accidents enough to keep it going. But no, they 
must trail them ten miles in a slow ambulance to Nottingham. 
It's a crying shame! Oh, and the fuss he'll make! 1 know he 
will! I wonder who's with him. Barker, I s'd think. Poor 
beggar, he'll vdsh himself anywhere rather. But he'll look 
after him, 1 know. Now there's no telhng how long he'll be 
stuck in that hospital — and won't he hate it! But if it's only 
his leg it's not so bad." 

All the time she was getting ready. Hurriedly taking off her 
bodice, she crouched at the boiler while the water ran slowly 
into her lading-can. 

"I wish this boiler was at the bottom of the sea!" she ex- 
claimed, wriggling the handle impatiently. She had very hand- 
some, strong arms, rather surprising on a smallish woman. 

Paul cleared away, put on the kettle, and set the table. 

"There isn't a train till four-twenty," he said. "You've time 

"Oh no, I haven't ! " she cried, blinking at him over the towel 
as she wiped her face. 

"Yes, you have. You must drink a cup of tea at any rate. 
Should I come with you to Keston?" 

"Come wdth me? What for, I should like to know? Now, 
what have I to take him? Eh, dear! His clean shirt — and it's 
a blessing it is clean. But it had better be aired. And stockings 
— he won't want them — and a towel, I suppose; and handker- 
chiefs. Now what else?" 

"A comb, a knife and fork and spoon," said Paul. His father 
had been in the hospital before. 


"Goodness knows what sort of state his feet were in," con- 
tinued Mrs. Morel, as she combed her long brown hair, that 
was fine as silk, and was touched now with grey. "He's very 
particular to wash himself to the waist, but below he thinks 
doesn't matter. But there, I suppose they see plenty like it." 

Paul had laid the table. He cut his mother one or two pieces 
of very thin bread and butter. 

"Here you are," he said, putting her cup of tea in her place. 

"1 can't be bothered!" she exclaimed crossly. 

"Well, you've got to, so there, now it's put out ready," he 

So she sat down and sipped her tea, and ate a little, in 
silence. She was thinking. 

In a few minutes she was gone, to walk the two and a half 
miles to Keston Station. All the things she was taking him she 
had in her bulging string bag. Paul watched her go up the road 
between the hedges — a little, quick-stepping figure, and his 
heart ached for her, that she was thrust forward again into 
pain and trouble. And she, tripping so quickly in her anxiety, 
felt at the back of her her son's heart waiting on her, felt him 
bearing what part of the burden he could, even supporting her. 
And when she was at the hospital, she thought : "It will upset 
that lad when I tell him how bad it is. I'd better be careful." 
And when she was trudging home again, she felt he was coming 
to share her burden. 

"Is it bad?" asked Paul, as soon as she entered the house. 

"It's bad enough," she replied. 


She sighed and sat down, undoing her bonnet-strings. Her 
son watched her face as it was lifted, and her small, work- 
hardened hands fingering at the bow under her chin. 

"Well," she answered, "it's not really dangerous, but the 
nurse says it's a dreadful smash. You see, a great piece of rock 
fell on his leg — here — and it's a compound fracture. There are 
pieces of bone sticking through " 

"Ugh — how horrid!" exclaimed the children. 

"And," she continued, "of course he says he's going to die — 
it wouldn't be him if he didn't. 'I'm done for, my lass!' he 
said, looking at me. 'Don't be so silly,' I said to him. 'You're 
not going to die of a broken leg, however badly it's smashed.' 
'I s'll niver come out of 'ere but in a wooden box,' he groaned. 
'Well,' I said, 'if you want them to carry you into the garden 


in a wooden box. when you're better, I've no doubt they will.' 
'If we think it's good for him,' said the Sister. She's an awfully 
nice Sister, but rather strict." 

Mrs. Morel took off her bonnet. The children waited in 

"Of course, he is bad," she continued, "and he will be. It's 
a great shock, and he's lost a lot of blood; and, of course, it is 
a very dangerous smash. It's not at all sure that it will mend 
so easily. And then there's the fever and the mortification — if 
it took bad ways he'd quickly be gone. But there, he's a clean- 
blooded man, with wonderful healing flesh, and so I see no 
reason why it should take bad ways. Of course there's a ' 
wound " 

She was pale now with emotion and anxiety. The three 
children realised that it was very bad for their father, and the 
house was silent, anxious. 

"But he always gets better," said Paul after a while. 

"That's what I tell him," said the mother. 

Everybody moved about in silence. 

"And he really looked nearly done for," she said. "But the 
Sister says that is the pain." 

Annie took away her mother's coat and bonnet. 

"And he looked at me when I came away! I said: *I s'll 
have to go now, Walter, because of the train — and the children.' 
And he looked at me. It seems hard." 

Paul took up his brush again and went on painting. Arthur 
went outside for some coal. Annie sat looking dismal. And 
Mrs. Morel, in her little rocking-chair that her husband had 
made for her when the first baby was coming, remained 
motionless, brooding. She was grieved, and bitterly sorry 
for the man who was hurt so much. But still, in her heart of 
hearts, where the love should have burned, there was a blank. 
Now, when all her woman's pity was roused to its full extent, 
when she would have slaved herself to death to nurse him and 
to save him, when she would have taken the pain herself, if 
she could, somewhere far away inside her, she felt indifferent 
to him and to his suffering. It hurt her most of all, this failure 
to love him, even when he roused her strong emotions. She 
brooded a while. 

"And there," she said suddenly, "when I'd got half-way to 
Keston, I found I'd come out in my working boots — and look 
at them " They were an old pair of Paul's, brown and rubbed , 


through at the toes. "I didn't know what to do with myself, 
for shame," she added. 

In the morning, when, Annie and Arthur were at school, Mrs. 
Morel talked again to her son, who was helping her with her 

"I found Barker at the hospital. He did look bad, poor little 
fellow ! 'Well,' 1 said to him, 'what sort of a journey did you 
have with him?' 'Dunna ax me, missis!' he said. 'Ay,' 1 said, 
'1 know what he'd be.' 'But it wor bad for him, Mrs. Morel, it 
wor that ! ' he said. 'I know,' 1 said. 'At ivry jolt 1 thought my 
'eart would ha' flown clean out o' my mouth,' he said. 'An' 
the scream 'e gives sometimes ! Missis, not for a fortune would 
I go through wi' it again.' 'I can quite understand it,' 1 said. 
'It's a nasty job, though,' he said, 'an' one as'll be a long while 
afore it's right again.' 'I'm afraid it will,' I said. I like Mr. 
Barker — I do like him. There's something so manly about him." 

Paul resumed his task silently. 

"And of course," Mrs. Morel continued, "for a man like 
your father, the hospital is hard. He can't understand rules 
and regulations. And he won't let anybody else touch him, 
not if he can help it. When he smashed the muscles of his 
thigh, and it had to be dressed four times a day, would he let 
anybody but me or his mother do it? He wouldn't. So, of 
course, he'll suffer in there with the nurses. And I didn't like 
leaving him. I'm sure, when I kissed him an' came away, it 
seemed a shame." 

So she talked to her son, almost as if she were thinking aloud 
to him, and he took it in as best he could, by sharing her trouble 
to lighten it. And in the end she shared almost everything with 
him without knowing. 

Morel had a very bad time. For a week he was in a critical 
condition. Then he began to mend. And then, knowing he was 
going to get better, the whole family sighed with relief, and 
proceeded to live happily. 

They were not badly off whilst Morel was in the hospital. 
There were fourteen shillings a week from the pit, ten shillings 
from the sick club, and five shillings from the Disability Fund; 
and then every week the butties had something for Mrs. Morel 
— five or seven shillings — so that she was quite well to do. And 
whilst Morel was progressing favourably in the hospital, the 
family was extraordinarily happy and peaceful. On Saturdays 
and Wednesdays Mrs. Morel went to Nottingham to see her 



husband. Then she always brought back some Httle thing: a 
small tube of paints for Paul, or some thick paper; a couple of 
postcards for Annie, that the whole family rejoiced over for 
days before the girl was allowed to send them away; or a fret- 
saw for Arthur, or a bit of pretty wood. She described her 
adventures into the big shops with joy. Soon the folk in the 
picture-shop knew her, and knew about Paul. The girl in the 
book-shop took a keen interest in her. Mrs. Morel was full of 
information when she got home from Nottingham. The three 
sat round till bed-time, listening, putting in, arguing. Then Paul 
often raked the fire. 

"I'm the man in the house now," he used to say to his 
mother with joy. They learned how perfectly peaceful the 
home could be. And they almost regretted — though none of 
them would have owned to such callousness — that their father 
was soon coming back. 

Paul was now fourteen, and was looking for work. He was 
a rather small and rather finely-made boy, with dark brown 
hair and light blue eyes. His face had already lost its youth- 
ful chubbiness, and was becoming somewhat like William's — 
rough-featured, almost rugged — and it was extraordinarily 
mobile. Usually he looked as if he saw things, was full of 
life, and warm; then his smile, like his mother's, came suddenly 
and was very lovable; and then, when there was any clog in 
his soul's quick running, his face went stupid and ugly. He i 
was the sort of boy that becomes a clown and a lout as soon 
as he is not understood, or feels himself held cheap; and, again, 
is adorable at the first touch of warmth. 

He suffered very much from the first contact with anything. 
When he was seven, the starting school had been a nightmare 
and a torture to him. But afterwards he liked it. And now 
that he felt he had to go out into life, he went through agonies 
of shrinking self-consciousness. He was quite a clever painter 
for a boy of his years, and he knew some French and German 
and mathematics that Mr. Heaton had taught him. But nothing 
he had was of any commercial value. He was not strong 
enough for heavy manual work, his mother said. He did not 
care for making things with his hands, preferred racing about, 
or making excursions into the country, or reading, or painting 

"What do you want to be?" his mother asked. 


"That is no answer," said Mrs. Morel. 


But it was quite truthfully the only answer he could give. 
His ambition, as far as this world's gear went, was quietly to 
earn his thirty or thirty-five shillings a week somewhere near 
home, and then, when his father died, have a cottage with his 
mother, paint and go out as he liked, and live happy ever after. 
That was his programme as far as doing things went. But he 
was proud within himself, measuring people against himself, 
and placing them, inexorably. And he thought that perhaps 
he might also make a painter, the real thing. But that he left 

"Then," said his mother, "you must look in the paper for 
the advertisements." 

He looked at her. It seemed to him a bitter humiliation and 
an anguish to go through. But he said nothing. When he got 
up in the morning, his whole being was knotted up over this 
one thought : 

"I've got to go and look for advertisements for a job." 

It stood in front of the morning, that thought, killing all joy 
and even life, for him. His heart felt like a tight knot. 

And then, at ten o'clock, he set off. He was supposed to be 
a queer, quiet child. Going up the sunny street of the little 
town, he felt as if all the folk he met said to themselves : "He's 
going to the Co-op. reading-room to look in the papers for a 
place. He can't get a job. I suppose he's living on his mother." 
Then he crept up the stone stairs behind the drapery shop at 
the Co-op., and peeped in the reading-room. Usually one or two 
men were there, either old, useless fellows, or colliers "on the 
club". So he entered, full of shrinking and suffering when they 
looked up, seated himself at the table, and pretended to scan 
the news. He knew they would think: "What does a lad of 
thirteen want in a reading-room with a newspaper?" and he 

Then he looked wistfully out of the window. Already he 
was a prisoner of industrialism. Large sunflowers stared over 
the old red wall of the garden opposite, looking in their jolly 
way down on the women who were hurrying with something 
for dinner. The valley was full of corn, brightening in the sun. 
Two collieries, among the fields, waved their small white 
plumes of steam. Far off on the hills were the woods of 
Annesley, dark and fascinating. Already his heart went down. 
He was being taken into bondage. His freedom in the beloved 
home valley was going now. 


The brewers' waggons came rolling up from Keston with 
enormous barrels, four a side, like beans in a burst bean-pod. 
The waggoner, throned aloft, rolling massively in his seat, was 
not so much below Paul's eye. The man's hair, on his small, 
bullet head, was bleached almost white by the sun, and on his 
thick red arms, rocking idly on his sack apron, the white hairs 
glistened. His red face shone and was almost asleep with sun- 
shine. The horses, handsome and brown, went on by them- 
selves, looking by far the masters of the show. 

Paul wished he were stupid. "I wish," he thought to him- 
self, "I was fat like him, and like a dog in the sun. I wish I was 
a pig and a brewer's waggoner." 

Then, the room being at last empty, he would hastily copy 
an advertisement on a scrap of paper, then another, and slip 
out in immense relief. His mother would scan over his copies. 

"Yes," she said, "you may try." 

William had written out a letter of application, couched in 
admirable business language, which Paul copied, with varia- 
tions. The boy's handwriting was execrable, so that William, 
who did all things well, got into a fever of impatience. 

The elder brother was becoming quite swanky. In London 
he found that he could associate with men far above his Best- 
wood friends in station. Some of the clerks in the office had 
studied for the law, and were more or less going through a 
kind of apprenticeship. William always made friends among 
men wherever he went, he was so jolly. Therefore he was 
soon visiting and staying in houses of men who, in Bestwood, 
would have looked down on the unapproachable bank manager, 
and would merely have called indifferently on the Rector. So 
he began to fancy himself as a great gun. He was, indeed, 
rather surprised at the ease with which he became a gentleman. 

His mother was glad, he seemed so pleased. And his lodging 
in Walthamstow was so dreary. But now there seemed to come 
a kind of fever into the young man's letters. He was unsettled 
by all the change, he did not stand firm on his own feet, but 
seemed to spin rather giddily on the quick current of the new 
life. His mother was anxious for him. She could feel him 
losing himself. He had danced and gone to the theatre, boated 
on the river, been out with friends; and she knew he sat up 
afterwards in his cold bedroom grinding away at Latin, because 
he intended to get on in his office, and in the law as much as 
he could. He never sent his mother any money now. It was 


all taken, the little he had, for his own life. And she did not 
want any, except sometimes, when she was in a tight corner, 
and when ten shillings would have saved her much worry. She 
still dreamed of William, and of what he would do, with her- 
self behind him. Never for a minute would she admit to 
herself how heavy and anxious her heart was because of 

Also he talked a good deal now of a girl he had met at a 
dance, a handsome brunette, quite young, and a lady, after 
whom the men were running thick and fast. 

"I wonder if you would run, my boy," his mother wrote to 
him, "unless you saw all the other men chasing her too. You 
feel safe enough and vain enough in a crowd. But take care, 
and see how you feel when you find yourself alone, and in 

William resented these things, and continued the chase. He 
had taken the girl on the river. "If you saw her, mother, you 
would know how 1 feel. Tall and elegant, with the clearest of 
clear, transparent olive complexions, hair as black as jet, and 
such grey eyes — bright, mocking, like lights on water at night. 
It is all very well to be a bit satirical till you see her. And she 
dresses as well as any in London. I tell you, your son 
doesn't half put his head up when she goes walking down 
Piccadilly with him." 

Mrs. Morel wondered, in her heart, if her son did not go 
walking down Piccadilly with an elegant figure and fine clothes, 
rather than with a woman who was near to him. But she con- 
gratulated him in her doubtful fashion. And, as she stood over 
the washing-tub, the mother brooded over her son. She saw 
him saddled with an elegant and expensive wife, earning little 
money, dragging along and getting draggled in some small, 
ugly house in a suburb. "But there," she told herself, "1 am 
very likely a silly — meeting trouble half-way." Nevertheless, 
the load of anxiety scarcely ever left her heart, lest William 
should do the wrong thing by himself. 

Presently, Paul was bidden call upon Thomas Jordan, Manu- 
facturer of Surgical Appliances, at 2i, Spaniel Row, Notting- 
ham. Mrs. Morel was all joy. 

"There, you see ! " she cried, her eyes shining. "You've only 
written four letters, and the third is answered. You're lucky, 
my boy, as I always said you were." 

Paul looked at the picture of a wooden leg, adorned with 


clastic stockings and other appliances, that figured on Mr. 
Jordan's notepaper, and he felt alarmed. He had not known 
that elastic stockings existed. And he seemed to feel the busi- 
ness world, with its regulated system of values, and its imper- 
sonality, and he dreaded it. It seemed monstrous also that a 
business could be run on wooden legs. 

Mother and son set off together one Tuesday morning. It was 
August and blazing hot. Paul walked with something screwed 
up tight inside him. He would have suffered much physical 
pain rather than this unreasonable suffering at being exposed 
to strangers, to be accepted or rejected. Yet he chattered away 
with his mother. He would never have confessed to her how 
he suffered over these things, and she only partly guessed. She 
was gay, like a sweetheart. She stood in front of the ticket- 
office at Bestwood, and Paul watched her take from her purse 
the money for the tickets. As he saw her hands in their old 
black kid gloves getting the silver out of the worn purse, his 
heart contracted with pain of love of her. 

She was quite excited, and quite gay. He suffered because 
she would talk aloud in presence of the other travellers. 

"Now look at that silly cow!" she said, "careering round as 
if it thought it was a circus." 

"It's most likely a bottfly," he said very low. 

"A what?" she asked brightly and unashamed. 

They thought a while. He was sensible all the time of having 
her opposite him. Suddenly their eyes met, and she smiled to 
him — a rare, intimate smile, beautiful with brightness and love. 
Then each looked out of the window. 

The sixteen slow miles of railway journey passed. The 
mother and son walked down Station Street, feeling the excite- 
ment of lovers having an adventure together. In Carrington 
Street they stopped to hang over the parapet and look at the 
barges on the canal below. 

"It's just like Venice," he said, seeing the sunshine on the 
water that lay between high factory walls. 

"Perhaps," she answered, smiling. 

They enjoyed the shops immensely. 

"Now you see that blouse," she would say, "wouldn't that 
just suit our Annie? And for one-and-eleven-three. Isn't that 

"And made of needlework as well," he said. 



They had plenty of time, so they did not hurry. The town 
was strange and delightful to them. But the boy was tied up 
inside in a knot of apprehension. He dreaded the interview 
with Thomas Jordan, 

It was nearly eleven o'clock by St. Peter's Church. They 
turned up a narrow street that led to the Castle. It was gloomy 
and old-fashioned, having low dark shops and dark green house 
doors with brass knockers, and yellow-ochred doorsteps pro- 
jecting on to the pavement; then another old shop whose small 
window looked like a cunning, half-shut eye. Mother and son 
went cautiously, looking everywhere for 'Thomas Jordan and 
Son". It was like hunting in some wild place. They were on 
tiptoe of excitement. 

Suddenly they spied a big, dark archway, in which were 
names of various firms, Thomas Jordan among them. 

"Here it is!" said Mrs. Morel. "But now where is it?" 

They looked round. On one side was a queer, dark, card- 
board factory, on the other a Commercial Hotel. 

"It's up the entry," said Paul. 

And they ventured under the archway, as into the jaws of 
the dragon. They emerged into a wide yard, like a well, with 
buildings all round. It was littered with straw and boxes, and 
cardboard. The sunshine actually caught one crate whose 
straw was streaming on to the yard like gold. But elsewhere 
the place was like a pit. There were several doors, and two 
flights of steps. Straight in front, on a dirty glass door at the 
top of a staircase, loomed the ominous words "Thomas Jordan 
and Son — Surgical Appliances." Mrs. Morel went first, her son 
followed her. Charles I mounted his scaffold with a lighter 
heart than had Paul Morel as he followed his mother up the 
dirty steps to the dirty door. 

She pushed open the door, and stood in pleased surprise. In 
front of her was a big warehouse, with creamy paper parcels 
everywhere, and clerks, with their shirt-sleeves rolled back, 
were going about in an at-home sort of way. The light was 
subdued, the glossy cream parcels seemed luminous, the 
counters were of dark brown wood. All was quiet and very 
homely. Mrs. Morel took two steps forward, then waited. 
Paul stood behind her. She had on her Sunday bonnet and a 
black veil; he wore a boy's broad white collar and a Norfolk 

One of the clerks looked up. He was thin and tall, with a 


small face. His way of looking was alert. Then he glanced 
round to the other end of the room, where was a glass office. 
And then he came forward. He did not say anything, but 
leaned in a gentle, inquiring fashion towards Mrs. Morel. 

"Can I see Mr. Jordan?" she asked. 

"I'll fetch him," answered the young man. 

He went down to the glass office. A red-faced, white- 
whiskered old man looked up. He reminded Paul of a 
pomeranian dog. Then the same little man came up the room. 
He had short legs, was rather stout, and wore an alpaca jacket. 
So, with one ear up, as it were, he came stoutly and inquiringly 
down the room. 

"Good-morning!" he said, hesitating before Mrs. Morel, in 
doubt as to whether she were a customer or not. 

"Good-morning. I came with my son, Paul Morel. You asked 
him to call this morning." 

"Come this way," said Mr. Jordan, in a rather snappy little 
manner intended to be business-like. 

They followed the manufacturer into a grubby little room, 
upholstered in black American leather, glossy with the rub- 
bing of many customers. On the table was a pile of trusses, 
yellow wash-leather hoops tangled together. They looked new 
and living. Paul sniffed the odour of new wash-leather. He 
wondered what the things were. By this time he was so much 
stunned that he only noticed the outside things. 

"Sit down!" said Mr. Jordan, irritably pointing Mrs. Morel 
to a horse-hair chair. She sat on the edge in an uncertain 
fashion. Then the little old man fidgeted and found a paper. 

"Did you write this letter?" he snapped, thrusting what Paul 
recognised as his own notepaper in front of him. 

"Yes," he answered. 

At that moment he was occupied in two ways : first, in feel- 
ing guilty for telling a lie, since William had composed the 
letter; second, in wondering why his letter seemed so strange 
and different, in the fat, red hand of the man, from what 
it had been when it lay on the kitchen table. It was like 
part of himself, gone astray. He resented the way the man 
held it. 

"Where did you learn to write?" said the old man crossly. 

Paul merely looked at him shamedly, and did not answer. 

"He is a bad writer," put in Mrs. Morel apologetically. Then 
she pushed up her veil. Paul hated her for not being prouder 


with this common Httle man, and he loved her face clear of 
the veil. 

"And yOu say you know French?" inquired the little man, 
still sharply. 

"Yes," said Paul. 

"What school did you go to?" 

"The Board-school." 

"And did you learn it there?" 

"No — I " The boy went crimson and got no farther. 

"His godfather gave him lessons," said Mrs. Morel, half 
pleading and rather distant. 

Mr. Jordan hesitated. Then, in his irritable manner — he 
always seemed to keep his hands ready for action — he pulled 
another sheet of paper from his pocket, unfolded it. The paper 
made a crackling noise. He handed it to Paul. 

"Read that," he said. 

It was a note in French, in thin, flimsy foreign handwriting 
that the boy could not decipher. He stared blankly at the 

" 'Monsieur,' " he began; then he looked in great confusion 
at Mr. Jordan. "It's the — it's the " 

He wanted to say "handwriting", but his wits would no 
longer work even sufficiently to supply him with the word. 
Feeling an utter fool, and hating Mr. Jordan, he turned 
desperately to the paper again. 

" 'Sir, — Please send me' — er — er — I can't tell the — er — 'two 
pairs — gris hi has — grey thread stockings' — er — er — 'sans — 
without' — er — I can't tell the words — er — 'doigts — fingers' — 
er— 1 can't tell the " 

He wanted to say "handwriting", but the word still refused 
to come. Seeing him stuck, Mr. Jordan snatched the paper from 

" 'Please send by return two pairs grey thread stockings 
without toes.' " 

"Well," flashed Paul, " 'doigts' means 'fingers' — as well — as 
a rule " 

The little man looked at him. He did not know whether 
"doigts" meant "fingers"; he knew that for all his purposes it 
meant "toes". 

"Fingers to stockings!" he snapped. 

"Well, it do€S mean fingers," the boy persisted. 

He hated the little man, who made such a clod of him. Mr. 


Jordan looked at the pale, stupid, defiant boy, then at the 
mother, who sat quiet and with that peculiar shut-off look of 
the poor who have to depend on the favour of others. 

"And when could he come?" he asked. 

"Well," said Mrs. Morel, "as soon as you wish. He has 
finished school now." 

"He would live in Bestwood?" 

"Yes; but he could be in — at the station — at quarter to 


It ended by Paul's being engaged as junior spiral clerk at 
eight shillings a week. The boy did not open his mouth to 
say another word, after having insisted that "doigts" meant 
"fingers". He followed his mother down the stairs. She looked 
at him with her bright blue eyes full of love and joy. 

"I think you'll like it," she said. 

" 'Doigts' does mean 'fingers', mother, and it was the writing. 
1 couldn't read the writing." 

"Never mind, my boy. I'm sure he'll be all right, and you 
won't see much of him. Wasn't that first young fellow nice? 
I'm sure you'll like them." 

"But wasn't Mr. Jordan common, mother? Does he own 
it all?" 

"I suppose he was a workman who has got on," she said. 
"You mustn't mind people so much. They're not being dis- 
agreeable to you — it's their way. You always think people are 
meaning things for you. But they don't." 

It was very sunny. Over the big desolate space of the market- 
place the blue sky shimmered, and the granite cobbles of the 
paving glistened. Shops down the Long Row were deep in 
obscurity, and the shadow was full of colour. Just where the 
horse trams trundled across the market was a row of fruit 
stalls, with fruit blazing in the sun — apples and piles of reddish 
oranges, small greengage plums and bananas. There was a 
warm scent of fruit as mother and son passed. Gradually his 
feeling of ignominy and of rage sank. 

"Where should we go for dinner?" asked the mother. 

It was felt to be a reckless extravagance. Paul had only been 
in an eating-house once or twice in his life, and then only to 
have a cup of tea and a bun. Most of the people of Bestwood 
considered that tea and bread-and-butter, and perhaps potted 
beef, was all they could afford to eat in Nottingham. Real 


cooked dinner was considered great extravagance. Paul felt 
rather guilty. 

They found a place that looked quite cheap. But when Mrs. 
Morel scanned the bill of fare, her heart was heavy, things 
were so dear. So she ordered kidney-pies and potatoes as the 
cheapest available dish. 

"We oughtn't to have come here, mother," said Paul. 

"Never mind," she said. "We won't come again." 

She insisted on his having a small currant tart, because he 
liked sweets. 

"I don't want it, mother," he pleaded. 

"Yes," she insisted; "you'll have it." 

And she looked round for the waitress. But the waitress was 
busy, and Mrs. Morel did not like to bother her then. So the 
mother and son waited for the girl's pleasure, whilst she flirted 
among the men. 

"Brazen hussy!" said Mrs. Morel to Paul. "Look now, she's 
taking that man his pudding, and he came long after us." 

"It doesn't matter, mother," said Paul. 

Mrs. Morel was angry. But she was too poor, and her orders 
were too meagre, so that she had not the courage to insist on 
her rights just then. They waited and waited. 

"Should we go, mother?" he said. 

Then Mrs. Morel stood up. The girl was passing near. 

1"Will you bring one currant tart?" said Mrs. Morel clearly. 
The girl looked round insolently. 
"Directly," she said. 

"We have waited quite long enough," said Mrs. Morel. 

In a moment the girl came back with the tart. Mrs. Morel 
a sked coldly for the bill. Pau l wanted to sink through the floor. 
He ma rvelled at hi s mother'*; h;^rdneqq He knew that only 
yeSs or baTlUlig" lud Uught her to insist even so little on her 
rights. She shrank as much as he. 

"It's the last time I go there for anything!" she declared, 
when they were outside the place, thankful to be clear. 

"We'll go," she said, "and look at Keep's and Boot's, and one 
or two places, shall we?" 

They had discussions over the pictures, and Mrs. Morel 
wanted to buy him a little sable brush that he hankered after. 
But this indulgence he refused. He stood in front of milliners' 
shops and drapers' shops almost bored, but content for her to 
be interested. They wandered on. 


"Now, just look at those black grapes!" she said. "They 
make your mouth water. I've wanted some of those for years, 
but I s'll have to wait a bit before I get them." 

Then she rejoiced in the florists, standing in the doorway 

"Oh! oh! Isn't it simply lovely!" 

Paul saw, in the darkness of the shop, an elegant young lady 
in black peering over the counter curiously. 

"They're looking at you," he said, trying to draw his mother 

"But what is it?" she exclaimed, refusing to be moved. 

"Stocks!" he answered, sniffing hastily. "Look, there's a 

"So there is — red and white. But really, I never knew stocks 
to smell like it!" And, to his great relief, she moved out of the 
doorway, but only to stand in front of the window. 

"Paul!" she cried to him, who was trying to get out of sight 
of the elegant young lady in black — the shop-girl. "Paul ! Just 
look here ! " 

He came reluctantly back. 

"Now, just look at that fuchsia!" she exclaimed, pointing. 

"H'm!" He made a curious, interested sound. "You'd think 
every second as the flowers was going to fall off, they hang so 
big an' heavy." 

"And such an abundance!" she cried. 

"And the way they drop downwards with their threads and 

"Yes!" she exclaimed. "Lovely!" 

"I wonder who'll buy it!" he said. 

"I wonder!" she answered. "Not us." 

"It would die in our parlour." 

"Yes, beastly cold, sunless hole; it kills every bit of a plant 
you put in, and the kitchen chokes them to death." 

They bought a few things, and set off towards the station. 
Looking up the canal, through the dark pass of the buildings, 
they saw the Castle on its bluff of brown, green-bushed rock, 
in a positive miracle of delicate sunshine. 

"Won't it be nice for me to come out at dinner-times?" 
said Paul. "1 can go all round here and see everything. I s'll 
love it." 

"You will," assented his mother. 

He had spent a perfect afternoon with his mother. They 


arrived home in the mellow evening, happy, and glowing, and 

In the morning he filled in the form for his season-ticket and 
took it to the station. When he got back, his mother was just 
beginning to wash the floor. He sat crouched up on the sofa. 

"He says it'll be here on Saturday," he said. 

"And how much will it be?" 

"About one pound eleven," he said. 

She went on washing her floor in silence. 

"Is it a lot?" he asked. 

"It's no more than I thought," she answered. 

"An' I s'll earn eight shillings a week," he said. 

She did not answer, but went on with her work. At last she 

"That William promised me, when he went to London, as 
he'd give me a pound a month. He has given me ten shilhngs — 
twice; and now I know he hasn't a farthing if 1 asked him. Not 
that I want it. Only just now you'd think he might be able 
to help with this ticket, which I'd never expected." 

"He earns a lot," said Paul. 

"He earns a hundred and thirty pounds. But they're all alike. 
They're large in promises, but it's precious little fulfilment 
you get." 

"He spends over fifty shiUings a week on himself," said Paul. 

"And I keep this house on less than thirty," she repHed; "and 
am supposed to find money for extras. But they don't care 
about helping you, once they've gone. He'd rather spend it on 
that dressed-up creature." 

"She should have her own money if she's so grand," said 

"She should, but she hasn't. 1 asked him. And / know he 
doesn't buy her a gold bangle for nothing. I wonder whoever 
bought me a gold bangle." 

William was succeeding with his "Gipsy", as he called her. 
He asked the girl — her name was Louisa Lily Denys Western — 
for a photograph to send to his mother. The photo came — a 
handsome brunette, taken in profile, s mirking^sl ightly^and, it 
might be, quite naked, for on the photograph not a scrap of 
clothing was to be seen, only a naked bust. 

"Yes," wrote Mrs. Morel to her son, "the photograph of Louie 
is very striking, and 1 can see she must be attractive. But do 
you think, my boy, it was very good taste of a girl to give 


her young man that photo to send to his mother — the first? 
Certainly the shoulders are beautiful, as you say. But I hardly 
expected to see so much of them at the first view." 

Morel found the photograph standing on the chiffonier in the 
parlour. He came out with it between his thick thumb and 

"Who dost reckon this is?" he asked of his wife. 

"It's the girl our William is going with," replied Mrs. Morel. 

"H'm! 'Er's a bright spark, from th' look on 'er, an' one as 
wunna do him owermuch good neither. Who is she?" 

"Her name is Louisa Lily Denys Western." 

"An' come again to-morrer!" exclaimed the miner. "An' is 
'er an actress?" 

"She is not. She's supposed to be a lady." 

"I'll bet!" he exclaimed, still staring at the photo. "A lady, 
is she? An' how much does she reckon ter keep up this sort 
o' game on?" 

"On nothing. She lives with an old aunt, whom she hates, 
and takes what bit of money's given her." 

"H'm!" said Morel, laying down the photograph. "Then he's 
a fool to ha' ta'en up wi' such a one as that." 

"Dear Mater," William replied. "I'm sorry you didn't like 
the photograph. It never occurred to me when 1 sent it, that 
you mightn't think it decent. However, I told Gyp that it didn't 
quite suit your prim and proper notions, so she's going to send 
you another, that 1 hope will please you better. She's always 
being photographed; in fact, the photographers ask her if they 
may take her for nothing." 

Presently the new photograph came, with a little silly note 
from the girl. This time the young lady was seen in a black 
satin evening bodice, cut square, with little puff sleeves, and 
black lace hanging down her beautiful arms. 

"I wonder if she ever wears anything except evening 
clothes," said Mrs. Morel sarcastically. "I'm sure I ought to 
be impressed." 

"You are disagreeable, mother," said Paul. "1 think the first 
one with bare shoulders is lovely." 

"Do you?" answered his mother. "Well, I don't." 

On the Monday morning the boy got up at six to start work. 
He had the season-ticket, which had cost such bitterness, in his 
waistcoat pocket. He loved it with its bars of yellow across. 
His mother packed his dinner in a small, shut-up basket, and he 


set off at a quarter to seven to catch the 7.15 train. Mrs. Morel 
came to the entry-end to see him off. 

It was a perfect morning. From the ash tree the slender green 
fruits that the children call "pigeons" were twinkling gaily 
down on a little breeze, into the front gardens of the houses. 
The valley was full of a lustrous dark haze, through which the 
ripe corn shimmered, and in which the steam from Minton pit 
melted swiftly. Puffs of wind came. Paul looked over the high 
woods of Aldersley, where the country gleamed, and home had 
never pulled at him so powerfully. 

"Good-morning, mother," he said, smiling, but feeling very 

"Good-morning," she replied cheerfully and tenderly. 

She stood in her white apron on the open road, watching him 
as he crossed the field. He had a small, compact body that 
looked full of life. She felt, as she saw him trudging over the 
field, that where he determined to go he would get. She thought 
of William. He would have leaped the fence instead of going 
round the stile. He was away in London, doing well. Paul 
would be working in Nottingham. Now she had two sons in 
the world. She could think of two places, great centres of 
indus^y, and feel that she had put a man into e ach of them . 
Giat~tFiese men would work out what she wantedTthey were 
jderived from her, they >vere of her, and their works also 
be hers. All the morning long she thought of Paul. 

At eight o'clock he Climbed the dismal stairs of Jordan's 
Surgical Appliance Factory, and stood helplessly against the 
first great parcel-rack, waiting for somebody to pick him up. 
The place was still not awake. Over the counters were great 
dust sheets. Two men only had arrived, and were heard talking 
in a corner, as they took off their coats and rolled up their 
shirt-sleeves. It was ten past eight. Evidently there was no rush 
of punctuality. Paul listened to the voices of the two clerks. 
Then he heard someone cough, and saw in the office at the end 
of the room an old, decaying clerk, in a round smoking-cap of 
black velvet embroidered with red and green, opening letters. 
He waited and waited. One of the junior clerks went to the old 
man, greeted him cheerily and loudly. Evidently the old 
"chief" was deaf. Then the young fellow came striding 
importantly down to his counter. He spied Paul. 

"Hello!" he said. "You the new lad?" 

"Yes," said Paul. 


"H'm! What's your name?" 

"Paul Morel." 

"Paul Morel? All right, you come on round here." 

Paul followed him round the rectangle of counters. The 
room was second storey. It had a great hole in the middle 
of the floor, fenced as with a wall of counters, and down this 
wide shaft the lifts went, and the light for the bottom storey. 
Also there was a corresponding big, oblong hole in the ceiling, 
and one could see above, over the fence of the top floor, some 
machinery; and right away overhead was the glass roof, and all 
light for the three storeys came downwards, getting dimmer, 
so that it was always night on the ground floor and rather 
gloomy on the second floor. The factory was the top floor, the 
warehouse the second, the storehouse the ground floor. It was 
an insanitary, ancient place. 

Paul was led round to a very dark corner. 

"This is the 'Spiral' corner," said the clerk. "You're Spiral, 
with Pappleworth. He's your boss, but he's not come yet. He 
doesn't get here till half-past eight. So you can fetch the letters, 
if you like, from Mr. Melling down there." 

The young man pointed to the old clerk in the office. 

"All right," said Paul. 

"Here's a peg to hang your cap on. Here are your entry 
ledgers. Mr. Pappleworth won't be long." 

And the thin young man stalked away with long, busy strides 
over the hollow wooden floor. 

After a minute or two Paul went down and stood in the door 
of the glass office. The old clerk in the smoking-cap looked 
down over the rim of his spectacles. 

"Good-morning," he said, kindly and impressively. "You 
want the letters for the Spiral department, Thomas?" 

Paul resented being caUed "Thomas". But he took the letters 
and returned to his dark place, where the counter made an 
angle, where the great parcel-rack came to an end, and where 
there were three doors in the comer. He sat on a high stool and 
read the letters — those whose handwriting was not too difficult. 
They ran as follows : 

"Will you please send me at once a pair of lady's silk spiral 
thigh-hose, without feet, such as I had from you last year; 
length, thigh to knee, etc." Or, "Major Chamberlain wishes to 
repeat his previous order for a silk non-elastic suspensory 


Many of these letters, some of them in French or Norwegian, 
were a great puzzle to the boy. He sat on his stool nervously 
awaiting the arrival of his "boss". He suffered tortures of shy- 
ness when, at half-past eight, the factory girls for upstairs 
trooped past him. 

Mr. Pappleworth arrived, chewing a chlorodyne gum, at 
about twenty to nine, when all the other men were at work. 
He was a thin, sallow man with a red nose, quick, staccato, 
and smartly but stiffly dressed. He was about thirty-six years 
old. There was something rather "doggy", rather smart, rather 
'cute and shrewd, and something warm, and something slightly 
contemptible about him, 

"You my new lad?" he srid. 

Paul stood up and said he was. 

"Fetched the letters?" 

Mr. Pappleworth gave a chew to his gum. 


"Copied 'em?" 


"Well, come on then, let's look shppy. Changed your coat?" 


"You want to bring an old coat and leave it here." He pro- 
nounced the last words with the chlorodyne gum between his 
side teeth. He vanished into the darkness behind the great 
parcel-rack, reappeared coatless, turning up a smart striped 
shirt-cuff over a thin and hairy arm. Then he slipped into his 
coat. Paul noticed how thin he was, and that his trousers were 
in folds behind. He seized a stool, dragged it beside the boy's, 
and sat down. 

"Sit down," he said. 

Paul took a seat. 

Mr. Pappleworth was very close to him. The man seized the 
letters, snatched a long entry-book out of a rack in front of 
him, flung it open, seized a pen, and said : 

"Now look here. You want to copy these letters in here." 
He sniffed twice, gave a quick chew at his gum, stared fixedly 
at a letter, then went very still and absorbed, and wrote the 
entry rapidly, in a beautiful* flourishing hand. He glanced 
quickly at Paul. 

"See that?" 


"Think you can do it all right?" 



"All right then, let's see you." 

He sprang off his stool. Paul took a pen. Mr. Pappleworth 
disappeared. Paul rather liked copying the letters, but he wrote 
slowly, laboriously, and exceedingly badly. He was doing the 
fourth letter, and feeling quite busy and happy, when Mr 
Pappleworth reappeared. 

"Now then, how'r' yer getting on? Done 'em?" 

He leaned over the boy's shoulder, chewing, and smelling of 

"Strike my bob, lad, but you're a beautiful writer!" he 
exclaimed satirically. "Ne'er mind, how many h'yer done? 
Only three! I'd 'a eaten 'em. Get on, my lad, an' put numbers 
on 'em. Here, look! Get on!" 

Paul ground away at the letters, whilst Mr. Pappleworth 
fussed over various jobs. Suddenly the boy started as a shrill 
whistle sounded near his ear. Mr. Pappleworth came, took a 
plug out of a pipe, and said, in an amazingly cross and bossy 
voice : 


Paul heard a faint voice, like a woman's, out of the mouth of 
the tube. He gazed in wonder, never having seen a speaking- 
tube before. 

"Well," said Mr. Pappleworth disagreeably into the tube, 
"you'd better get some of your back work done, then." 

Again the woman's tiny voice was heard, sounding pretty 
and cross. 

"I've not time to stand here while you talk," said Mr. Papple- 
worth, and he pushed the plug into the tube. 

"Come, my lad," he said imploringly to Paul, "there's Polly 
crying out for them orders. Can't you buck up a bit? Here, 
come out!" 

He took the book, to Paul's immense chagrin, and began the 
copying himself. He worked quickly and well. This done, he 
seized some strips of long yellow paper, about three inches 
wide, and made out the day's orders for the work-girls. 

"You'd better watch me," he said to Paul, working all the 
while rapidly. Paul watched the weird little drawings of legs, 
and thighs, and ankles, with the strokes across and the numbers, 
and the few brief directions which his chief made upon the 
yellow paper. Then Mr. Pappleworth finished and jumped up. 

"Come on with me," he said, and the yellow papers flying 


in his hands, he dashed through a door and down some stairs, 
into the basement where the gas was burning. They crossed 
the cold, damp storeroom, then a long, dreary room with a 
long table on trestles, into a smaller, cosy apartment, not very 
high, which had been built on to the main building. In this 
room a small woman with a red serge blouse, and her black 
hair done on top of her head, was waiting like a proud little 

"Here y'are!" said Pappleworth. 

"I think it is 'here you are'!" exclaimed Polly. "The girls 
have been here nearly half an hour waiting. Just think of the 
time wasted!" 

''You think of getting your work done and not talking so 
much," said Mr. Pappleworth. "You could ha' been finishing 

"You know quite well we finished everything off on Satur- 
day!" cried Polly, flying at him, her dark eyes flashing. 

"Tu-tu-tu-tu-terterter ! " he mocked. "Here's 3^our new lad. 
Don't ruin him as you did the last." 

"As we did the last!" repeated Polly. "Yes, we do a lot of 
ruining, we do. My word, a lad would take some ruining after 
he'd been with you." 

"It's time for work now, not for talk," said Mr. Pappleworth 
severely and coldly. 

"It was time for work some time back," said Polly, marching 
away with her head in the air. She was an erect little body of 

In that room were two round spiral machines on the bench 
under the window. Through the inner doorway was another 
longer room, with six more machines. A little group of girls, 
nicely dressed in white aprons, stood talking together. 

"Have you nothing else to do but talk?" said Mr. Papple- 

"Only wait for you," said one handsome girl, laughing. 

"Well, get on, get on," he said. "Come on, my lad. You'll 
know your road down here again." 

And Paul ran upstairs after his chief. He was given some 
checking and invoicing to do. He stood at the desk, labouring 
in his execrable handwriting. Presently Mr. Jordan came strut- 
ting down from the glass office and stood behind him, to the 
boy's great discomfort. Suddenly a red and fat finger was thrust 
on the form he was filling in. 


"Mr. J. A. Bates, Esquire!" exclaimed the cross voice just 
behind his ear. 

Paul looked at "Mr. J. A. Bates, Esquire" in his own vile 
writing, and wondered what was the matter now. 

"Didn't they teach you any better than that while they were 
at it ? If you put 'Mr.' you don't put Esquire' — a man can't be 
both at once." 

The boy regretted his too-much generosity in disposing of 
honours, hesitated, and with trembling fingers, scratched out 
the "Mr." Then all at once Mr. Jordan snatched away the 

"Make another! Are you going to send that to a gentleman?" 
And he tore up the blue form irritably. 

Paul, his ears red with shame, began again. Still Mr. Jordan 

"1 don't know what they do teach in schools. You'll have to 
write better than that. Lads learn nothing nowadays, but how 
to recite poetry and play the fiddle. Have you seen his 
writing?" he asked of Mr. Pappleworth. 

"Yes; prime, isn't it?" replied Mr. Pappleworth indifferently. 

Mr. Jordan gave a little grunt, not unamiable. Paul divined 
that his master's bark was worse than his bite. Indeed, the 
little manufacturer, although he spoke bad English, was quite 
gentleman enough to leave his men alone and to take no notice 
of trifles. But he knew he did not look like the boss and owner 
of the show, so he had to play his role of proprietor at first, to 
put things on a right footing. 

"Let's see, what's your name?" asked Mr. Pappleworth of 
the boy. 

"Paul Morel." 

It is curious that children suffer so much at having to pro- 
nounce their own names. 

"Paul Morel, is it? All right, you Paul-Morel through them 
things there, and then " 

Mr. Pappleworth subsided on to a stool, and began writing. 
A girl came up from out of a door just behind, put some newly- 
pressed elastic web appliances on the counter, and returned. Mr. 
Pappleworth picked up the whitey-blue knee-band, examined 
it, and its yellow order-paper quickly, and put it on one side. 
Next was a flesh-pink "leg". He went through the few things, 
wrote out a couple of orders, and called to Paul to accompany 
him. This time they went through the door whence the girl 


had emerged. There Paul found himself at the top of a little 
wooden flight of steps, and below him saw a room with 
windows round two sides, and at the farther end half a dozen 
girls sitting bending over the benches in the light from the 
window, sewing. They were singing together "Two Little Girls 
in Blue". Hearing the door opened, they all turned round, to 
see Mr. Pappleworth and Paul looking down on them from the 
far end of the room. They stopped singing. 

"Can't you make a bit less row?" said Mr. Pappleworth. 
"Folk'll think we keep cats." 

A hunchback woman on a high stool turned her long, rather 
heavy face towards Mr. Pappleworth, and said, in a contralto 
voice : 

"They're all tom-cats then." 

In vain Mr. Pappleworth tried to be impressive for Paul's 
benefit. He descended the steps into the finishing-oif room, and 
went to the hunchback Fanny. She had such a short body on 
her high stool that her head, with its great bands of bright 
brown hair, seemed over large, as did her pale, heavy face. 
She wore a dress of green-black cashmere, and her wrists, 
coming out of the narrow cuffs, were thin and flat, as she put 
down her work nervously. He showed her something that was 
wrong with a knee-cap. 

"Well," she said, "you needn't come blaming it on to me. 
It's not my fault." Her colour mounted to her cheek. 

"I never said it was your fault. Will you do as I tell you?" 
replied Mr. Pappleworth shortly. 

"You don't say it's my fault, but you'd like to make out as 
it was," the hunchback woman cried, almost in tears. Then 
she snatched the knee-cap from her "boss", saying: "Yes, I'll 
do it for you, but you needn't be snappy." 

"Here's your new lad," said Mr. Pappleworth. 

Fanny turned, smiling very gently on Paul. 

"Oh!" she said. 

"Yes; don't make a softy of him between you." 

"It's not us as 'ud make a softy of him," she said indignantly. 

"Come on then, Paul," said Mr. Pappleworth. 

"Au revoy, Paul," said one of the girls. 

There was a titter of laughter. Paul went out, blushing 
deeply, not having spoken a word. 

The day was very long. All morning the work-people were 
coming to speak to Mr. Pappleworth. Paul was writing or 


learning to make up parcels, ready for the midday post. At 
one o'clock, or, rather, at a quarter to one, Mr. Pappleworth 
disappeared to catch his train : he lived in the suburbs. At one 
o'clock, Paul, feeling very lost, took his dinner-basket down 
into the stockroom in the basement, that had the long table 
on trestles, and ate his meal hurriedly, alone in that cellar of 
gloom and desolation. Then he w^ent out of doors. The bright- 
ness and the freedom of the streets made him feel adventurous 
and happy. But at two o'clock he was back in the corner of 
the big room. Soon the work-girls went trooping past, making 
remarks. It was the com.moner girls who worked upstairs at 
the heavy tasks of truss-making and the finishing of artificial 
limbs. He waited for Mr. Pappleworth, not knowing what to 
do, sitting scribbling on the yellow order-paper. Mr. Papple- 
worth came at twenty minutes to three. Then he sat and 
gossiped with Paul, treating the boy entirely as an equal, even 
in age. 

In the afternoon there was never very much to do, unless it 
were near the week-end, and the accounts had to be made up. 
At five o'clock all the men went down into the dungeon with 
the table on trestles, and there they had tea, eating bread-and- 
butter on the bare, dirty boards, talking with the same kind 
of ugly haste and slovenliness with which they ate their meal. 
And yet upstairs the atmosphere among them was always jolly 
and clear. The cellar and the trestles affected them. 

After tea, when all the gases were lighted, work went more 
briskly. There was the big evening post to get off. The hose 
came up warm and newly pressed from the workrooms. Paul 
had made out the invoices. Now he had the packing up and 
addressing to do, then he had to weigh his stock of parcels on 
the scales. Everywhere voices were calling weights, there was 
the chink of metal, the rapid snapping of string, the hurrying 
to old Mr. Melling for stamps. And at last the postman came 
with his sack, laughing and jolly. Then everything slacked off, 
and Paul took his dinner-basket and ran to the station to catch 
the eight-twenty train. The day in the factory was just twelve 
hours long. 

His mother sat waiting for him rather anxiously. He had to 
walk from Keston, so was not home until about twenty past 
nine. And he left the house before seven in the morning. Mrs. 
Morel was rather anxious about his health. But she herself 
had had to put up with so much that she expected her children 


to take the sa me odds. T hey must go through with what came. 
AndTatiHtayea: at Jordan's, although all the time he was there 
his health suffered from the darkness and lack of air and the 
long hours. 

He came in pale and tired. His mother looked at him. She 
saw he was rather pleased, and her anxiety all went. 

"Well, and how was it?" she asked. 

"Ever so funny, mother," he replied. "You don't have to 
work a bit hard, and they're nice with you." 

"And did you get on all right?" 

"Yes: they only say my writing's bad. But Mr. Papple- 
worth — he's my man — said to Mr. Jordan 1 should be all right. 
I'm Spiral, mother; you must come and see. It's ever so nice." 

Soon he liked Jordan's. Mr. Pappleworth, who had a certain 
"saloon bar" flavour about him, was always natural, and 
treated him as if he had been a comrade. Sometimes the 
"Spiral boss" was irritable, and chewed more lozenges than 
ever. Even then, however, he was not offensive, but one of 
those people who hurt themselves by their own irritability 
more than they hurt other people. 

"Haven't you done that yet?" he would cry. "Go on, be a 
month of Sundays." 

Again, and Paul could understand him least then, he was 
jocular and in high spirits. 

"I'm going to bring my little Yorkshire terrier bitch to- 
morrow," he said jubilantly to Paul. 

"What's a Yorkshire terrier?" 

"Don't know what a Yorkshire terrier is? Don't know a 
Yorkshire " Mr. Pappleworth was aghast. 

"Is it a little silky one — colours of iron and rusty silver?" 

"That's it, my lad. She's a gem. She's had five pounds' 
worth of pups already, and she's worth over seven pounds 
herself; and she doesn't weigh twenty ounces." 

The next day the bitch came. She was a shivering, miserable 
morsel. Paul did not care for her; she seemed so like a wet rag 
that would never dry. Then a man called for her, and began 
to make coarse jokes. But Mr. Pappleworth nodded his head in 
the direction of the boy, and the talk went on sotto voce. 

Mr. Jordan only made one more excursion to watch Paul, 
and then the only fault he found was seeing the boy lay his 
pen on the counter. 

"Put your pen in your ear, if you're going to be a clerk. Pen 


in your ear ! " And one day he said to the lad : "Why don't you 
hold your shoulders straighter? Come down here," when he 
took him into the glass office and fitted him with special braces 
for keeping the shoulders square. 

But Paul liked the girls best. The men seemed common and 
rather dull. He liked them all, but they were uninteresting. 
Polly, the little brisk overseer downstairs, finding Paul eating 
in the cellar, asked him if she could cook him anything on her 
little stove. Next day his mother gave him a dish that could 
be heated up. He took it into the pleasant, clean room to Polly. 
And very soon it grew to be an established custom that he 
should have dinner with her. When he came in at eight in 
the morning he took his basket to her, and when he came 
down at one o'clock she had his dinner ready. 

He was not very tall, and pale, with thick chestnut hair, 
irregular features, and a wide, full mouth. She was like a 
small bird. He often called her a "robinet". Though naturally 
rather quiet, he would sit and chatter with her for hours tell- 
ing her about his home. The girls all liked to hear him talk. 
They often gathered in a little circle while he sat on a bench, 
and held forth to them, laughing. Some of them regarded him 
as a curious little creature, so serious, yet so bright and jolly, 
and always so delicate in his way with them. They all liked 
him, and he adored them. Polly he felt he belonged to. Then 
Connie, with her mane of red hair, her face of apple-blossom, 
her murmuring voice, such a lady in her shabby black frock, 
appealed to his romantic side. 

"When you sit winding," he said, "it looks as if you were 
spinning at a spinning-wheel — it looks ever so nice. You re- 
mind me of Elaine in the 'Idylls of the King'. I'd draw you if 
1 could." 

And she glanced at him blushing shyly. And later on he 
had a sketch he prized very much : Connie sitting on the stool 
before the wheel, her flowing mane of red hair on her rusty 
black frock, her red mouth shut and serious, running the 
scarlet thread off the hank on to the reel. 

With Louie, handsome and brazen, who always seemed to 
thrust her hip at him, he usually joked. 

Emma was rather plain, rather old, and condescending. But 
to condescend to him made her happy, and he did not mind. 

"How do you put needles in?" he asked. 

"Go away and don't bother." 


"But I ought to know how to put needles in." 

She ground at her machine all the while steadily. 

"There are many things you ought to know," she replied. 

"Tell me, then, how to stick needles in the machine." 

"Oh, the boy, what a nuisance he is ! Why, this is how you 
do it." 

He watched her attentively. Suddenly a whistle piped. Then 
Polly appeared, and said in a clear voice : 

"Mr. Pappleworth wants to know how much longer you're 
going to be down here playing with the girls, Paul." 

Paul flew upstairs, calling "Good-bye!" and Emma drew 
herself up. 

"It wasn't me who wanted him to play with the machine," 
she said. 

As a rule, when all the girls came back at two o'clock, he 
ran upstairs to Fanny, the hunchback, in the finishing-oif room. 
Mr. Pappleworth did not appear till twenty to three, and he 
often found his boy sitting beside Fanny, talking, or drawing, 
or singing with the girls. 

Often, after a minute's hesitation, Fanny would begin to 
sing. She had a fine contralto voice. Everybody joined in the 
chorus, and it went well. Paul was not at all embarrassed, after 
a while, sitting in the room with the half a dozen work-girls. 

At the end of the song Fanny would say : 

"I know you've been laughing at me." 

"Don't be so soft, Fanny!" cried one of the girls. 

Once there was mention of Connie's red hair. 

"Fanny's is better, to my fancy," said Emma. 

"You needn't try to make a fool of me," said Fanny, flush- 
ing deeply. 

"No, but she has, Paul; she's got beautiful hair." 

"It's a treat of a colour," said he. "That coldish colour like 
earth, and yet shiny. It's like bog-water." 

"Goodness me!" exclaimed one girl, laughing. 

"How I do but get criticised," said Fanny. 

"But you should see it down, Paul," cried Emma earnestly. 
"It's simply beautiful. Put it down for him, Fanny, if he wants 
something to paint." 

Fanny would not, and yet she wanted to. 

"Then I'll take it down myself," said the lad. 

"Well, you can if you like," said Fanny. 

And he carefully took the pins out of the knot, and the rush 


of hair, of uniform dark brown, slid over the humped back. 

"What a lovely lot!" he exclaimed. 

The girls watched. There was silence. The youth shook the 
hair loose from the coil. 

"It's splendid!" he said, smelling its perfume. "I'll bet it's 
worth pounds." 

"I'll leave it you when I die, Paul," said Fanny, half joking. 

"You look just like anybody else, sitting drying their hair," 
said one of the girls to the long-legged hunchback. 

Poor Fanny was morbidly sensitive, always imagining insults. 
Polly was curt and business-like. The two departments were 
for ever at war, and Paul was always finding Fanny in tears. 
Then he was made the recipient of all her woes, and he had to 
plead her case with Polly. 

So the time went along happily enough. The factory had 
a homely feel. No one was rushed or driven. Paul always 
enjoyed it when the work got faster, towards post-time, and 
all the men united in labour. He liked to watch his fellow- 
clerks at work. The man was the work and the work was the 
man, one thing, for the time being. It was different vdth the 
girls. The real woman never seemed to be there at the task, 
but as if left out, waiting. 

From the train going home at night he used to watch the 
lights of the town, sprinkled thick on the hills, fusing together 
in a blaze in the valleys. He felt rich in life and happy. Draw- 
ing farther off, there was a patch of lights at Bulwell like 
myriad petals shaken to the ground from the shed stars; and 
beyond was the red glare of the furnaces, playing like hot 
breath on the clouds. 

He had to walk two and more miles from Keston home, up 
two long hills, down two short hills. He was often tired, and 
he counted the lamps climbing the hill above him, how many 
more to pass. And from the hill-top, on pitch-dark nights, he 
looked round on the villages five or six miles away, that shone 
like swarms of glittering living things, almost a heaven against 
his feet. Marlpool and Heanor scattered the far-off darkness 
with brilliance. And occasionally the black valley space be- 
tween was traced, violated by a great train rushing south to 
London or north to Scotland. The trains roared by like pro- 
jectiles level on the darkness, fuming and burning, making 
the valley clang with their passage. They were gone, and the 
lights of the towns and villages glittered in silence. 


And then he came to the corner at home, which faced the 
other side of the night. The ash-tree seemed a friend now. His 
mother rose with gladness as he entered. He put his eight 
shiUings proudly on the table. 

"It'll help, mother?" he asked wistfully. 

"There's precious little left," she answered, "after your 
ticket and dinners and such are taken off." 

Then he told her the budget of the day. His life-story, like 
an Arabian Nights, was told night after night to his mother. ^ 


^ " 

Arthur Morel was growing up. He was a quick, careless, 
impulsive boy, a good deal like his father. He hated study, 
made a great moan if he had to work, and escaped as soon as 
possible to his sport again. 

»r In appearance he remained the flower of the family, being 

( well made, graceful, and full of life. His dark brown hair and 

fresh colouring, and his exquisite dark blue eyes shaded with 

long lashes, together with his generous manner and fiery 

temper, made him a favourite. But as he grew older his temper 

Ibecame uncertain. He flew into rages over nothing, seemed 

^unbearably raw and irritable. 

\ His mother, whom he loved, wearied of him sometimes. He 
thought only of himself. When he wanted amusement, all 
that stood in his way he hated, even if it were she. When he 
Avas in trouble he moaned to her ceaselessly. 

/ "Goodness, boy!" she said, when he groaned about a master 
who, he said, hated him, "if you don't like it, alter it, and if 
you can't alter it, put up with it." 

And his father, whom he had loved and who had worshipped 
him, he came to detest. As he grew older Morel fell into a slow 
ruin. His body, which had been beautiful in movement and in 
being, shrank, did not seem to ripen with the years, but to get 
mean and rather despicable. There came over him a look of 
meanness and of paltriness. And when the mean-looking elderly 
man bullied or ordered the boy about, Arthur was furious. 
Moreover, Morel's manners got worse and worse, his habits 


\ somewhat disgusting. When the children were growing up 

\ and in the crucial stage of adolescence, the father was like 

\ some ugly irritant to their souls. His manners in the house 

>were the same as he used among the colliers down pit. 

v" Dirtv nuisance! ^ Arthur would cry, jumping up and going 

straight out of the^ouse when his father disgusted him. And 

Morel persisted the more because his children hated it. He 

seemed to take a kind of satisfaction in disgusting them, and 

driving them nearly mad, while they were so irritably sensitive 

at the age of fourteen or fifteen. So that Arthur, who was 

growing up when his father was degenerate and elderly, hated 

him worst of all. 

Then, sometimes, the father would seem to feel the con- 
temptuous hatred of his children. 

"There's not a man tries harder for his family!" he would 
shout. "He does his best for them, and then gets treated like 
a dog. But I'm not going to stand it, 1 tell you ! " 

But for the threat and the fact that he did not try so hard as 
he imagined, they would have felt sorry. As it was, the battle 
now went on nearly all between father and children, he persist- 
ing in his dirty and disgusting ways, just to assert his independ- 
ence. They loathed him. 

Arthur was so inflamed and irritable at last, that when he 
won a scholarship for the Grammar School in Nottingham, his 
mother decided to let him live in town, with one of her sisters, 
and only come home at week-ends. 

Annie was still a junior teacher in the Board-school, earning 
about four shillings a week. But soon she would have fifteen 
shillings, since she had passed her examination, and there 
would be financial peace in the house. 

Mrs. Morel clung now to Paul. He was quiet and not bril- 
liant. But still he stuck to his painting, and still he stuck to his 
mother. Everything he did was for her. She waited for his 
coming home in the evening, and then she unburdened herself 
of all she had pondered, or of all that had occurred to her 
during the day. He sat and listened with his earnestness. The 
^ two shared lives. 

William was engaged now to his brunette, and had bought 
her an engagement ring that cost eight guineas. The children 
gasped at such a fabulous price. 

"Eight guineas!" said Morel. "More fool him! If he'd gen 
me some on't, it 'ud ha' looked better on 'im." 


"Given you some of it!" cried Mrs. Morel. "Why give you 
some of it!" 

She remembered he had bought no engagement ring at all, 
and she preferred William, who was not mean, if he were 
foolish. But now the young man talked only of the dances to 
which he went with his betrothed, and the different resplendent 
clothes she wore; or he told his mother with glee how they 
went to the theatre like great swells. 

He wanted to bring the girl home. Mrs. Morel said she 
should come at the Christmas. This time William arrived 
with a lady, but with no presents. Mrs. Morel had prepared 
supper. Hearing footsteps, she rose and went to the door. 
William entered. 

"Hello, mother!" He kissed her hastily, then stood aside to 
present a tall, handsome girl, who was wearing a costume of 
fine black-and-white check, and furs. 

"Here's Gyp!" 

Miss Western held out her hand and showed her teeth in a 
small smile. 
, "Oh, how do you do, Mrs. Morel!" she exclaimed. 

"I am afraid you will be hungry," said Mrs. Morel. 
' "Oh no, we had dinner in the train. Have you got my gloves. 

William Morel, big and raw-boned, looked at her quickly. 

"How should I?" he said. 

"Then I've lost them. Don't be cross with me." 

A frown went over his face, but he said nothing. She 
glanced round the kitchen. It was small and curious to her, 
with its glittering kissing-bunch, its evergreens behind the 
pictures, its wooden chairs and little deal table. At that 
moment Morel came in. 

"Hello, dad!" 

"Hello, my son! Tha's let on me!" 

The two shook hands, and William presented the lady. She 
gave the same smile that showed her teeth. 

"How do you do, Mr. Morel?" 

Morel bowed obsequiously. 

"I'm very well, and I hope so are you. You must make your- 
self very welcome." 

"Oh, thank you," she replied, rather amused. 

"You will like to go upstairs," said Mrs. Morel. 

"If you don't mind; but not if it is any trouble to you." 


"It is no trouble. Annie will take you. Walter, carry up 
this box." 

"And don't be an hour dressing yourself up," said William to 
his betrothed. 

Annie took a brass candlestick, and, too shy almost to speak, 
preceded the young lady to the front bedroom, which Mr. and 
Mrs. Morel had vacated for her. It, too, was small and cold by 
candle-light. The colliers' wives only lit fires in bedrooms in 
case of extreme illness. 

"Shall I unstrap the box?" asked Annie. 

"Oh, thank you very much ! " 

Annie played the part of maid, then went downstairs for hot 

"I think she's rather tired, mother," said William. "It's a 
beastly journey, and we had such a rush." 

"Is there anything I can give her?" asked Mrs. Morel. 

"Oh no, she'll be all right." 

But there was a chill in the atmosphere. After half an hour 
Miss Western came down, having put on a purplish-coloured 
dress, very fine for the collier's kitchen. 

"I told you you'd no need to change," said William to 

"Oh, Chubby!" Then she turned with that sweetish smile 
to Mrs. Morel. "Don't you think he's always grumbling, Mrs. 

"Is he?" said Mrs. Morel. "That's not very nice of him." 

"It isn't, really!" 

"You are cold," said the mother. "Won't you come near 
the fire?" 

Morel jumped out of his arm-chair. 

"Come and sit you here!" he cried. "Come and sit you 

"No, dad, keep your own chair. Sit on the sofa. Gyp," said 

"No, no!" cried Morel. "This cheer's warmest. Come and 
sit here. Miss Wesson." 

"Thank you so much," said the girl, seating herself in the 
collier's arm-chair, the place of honour. She shivered, feeling 
the warmth of the kitchen penetrate her. 

"Fetch me a hanky. Chubby dear!" she said, putting up her 
mouth to him, and using the same intimate tone as if they 
were alone; which made the rest of the family feel as if they 


ought not to be present. The young lady evidently did not 
realise them as people: they were creatures to her for the 
present. William winced. 

In such a household, in Streatham, Miss Western would have 
been a lady condescending to her inferiors. These people were 
to her, certainly clownish — in short, the working classes. How 
was she to adjust herself? 

'Til go," said Annie. 

Miss Western took no notice, as if a servant had spoken. 
But when the girl came downstairs again with the handker- 
chief, she said : "Oh, thank you ! " in a gracious way. 

She sat and talked about the dinner on the train, which had 
been so poor; about London, about dances. She was really very 
nervous, and chattered from fear. Morel sat all the time 
smoking his thick twist tobacco, watching her, and listening 
to her glib London speech, as he puffed. Mrs. Morel, dressed 
up in her best black silk blouse, answered quietly and rather 
briefly. The three children sat round in silence and admiration. 
Miss Western was the princess. Everything of the best was got 
out for her : the best cups, the best spoons, the best table cloth, 
the best coffee-jug. The children thought she must find it quite 
grand. She felt strange, not able to realize the people, not 
knowing how to treat them. William joked, and was slightly 

At about ten o'clock he said to her : 

"Aren't you tired. Gyp?" 

"Rather, Chubby," she answered, at once in the intimate 
tones and putting her head slightly on one side. 

"I'll light her the candle, mother," he said. 

"Very well," replied the mother. 

Miss Western stood up, held out her hand to Mrs. Morel. 

"Good-night, Mrs. Morel," she said. 

Paul sat at the boiler, letting the water run from the tap 
into a stone beer-bottle. Annie swathed the bottle in an old 
flannel pit-singlet, and kissed her mother good-night. She was 
to share the room with the lady, because the house was full. 

"You wait a minute," said Mrs. Morel to Annie. And Annie 
sat nursing the hot-water bottle. Miss Western shook hands all 
round, to everybody's discomfort, and took her departure, pre- 
ceded by William. In five minutes he was downstairs again. 
His heart was rather sore; he did not know why. He talked 
very little till everybody had gone to bed, but himself and his 


mother. Then he stood with his legs apart, in his old attitude 
on the hearth-rug, and said hesitatingly : 

"Well, mother?" 

"Well, my son?" 

She sat in the rocking-chair, feeling somehow hurt and 
humiliated, for his sake. 

"Do you like her?" 

"Yes," came the slow answer. 

"She's shy yet, mother. She's not used to it. It's different 
from her aunt's house, you know." 

"Of course it is, my boy; and she must find it difficult." 

"She does." Then he frowned swiftly. "If only she wouldn't 
put on her blessed airs ! " 

"It's only her first awkwardness, my boy. She'll be all right." 

"That's it, mother," he replied gratefully. But his brow was 
gloomy. "You know, she's not like you, mother. She's not 
serious, and she can't think." 

"She's young, my boy." 

"Yes; and she's had no sort of show. Her mother died when 
she was a child. Since then she's hved with her aunt, whom 
she can't bear. And her father was a rake. She's had no 

"No! Well, you must make up to her." 

"And so — you have to forgive her a lot of things." 

"What do you have to forgive her, my boy?" 

"I dunno. When she seems shallow, you have to remember 
she's never had anybody to bring her deeper side out. And 
she's fearfully fond of me." 

"Anybody can see that." 

"But you know, mother — she's — she's different from us. 
Those sort of people, like those she lives amongst, they don't 
seem to have the same principles." 

"You mustn't judge too hastily," said Mrs. Morel. 

But he seemed uneasy within himself. 

In the morning, however, he was up singing and larking 
round the house. 

"Hello!" he called, sitting on the stairs, "Are you getting 

"Yes," her voice called faintly. 

"Merry Christmas!" he shouted to her. 

Her laugh, pretty and tinkling, was heard in the bedroom. 
She did not come down in half an hour. 


"Was she really getting up when she said she was?" he 
asked of Annie. 

"Yes, she was/' replied Annie. 

He waited a while, then went to the stairs again. 

"Happy New Year/' he called. 

"Thank you. Chubby dear!" came the laughing voice, far 

"Buck up ! " he implored. 

It was nearly an hour, and still he was waiting for her. 
Morel, who always rose before six, looked at the clock. 

"Well, it's a winder!" he exclaimed. 

The family had breakfasted, all but William. He went to 
the foot of the stairs. 

"Shall 1 have to send you an Easter egg up there?" he called, 
rather crossly. She only laughed. The family expected, after 
that time of preparation, something like magic. At last she 
came, looking very nice in a blouse and skirt. 

"Have you really been all this time getting ready?" he asked. 
^ "Chubby dear! That question is not permitted, is it, Mrs. 

She played the grand* lady at first. When she went with 
William to chapel, he in his frock-coat and silk hat, she in her 
furs and London-made costume, Paul and Arthur and Annie 
expected everybody to bow to the ground in admiration. And 
Morel, standing in his Sunday suit at the end of the road, 
w^atching the gallant pair go, felt he was the father of princes 
and princesses. 

And yet she was not so grand. For a year now she had been 
a sort of secretary or clerk in a London office. But while she 
w^as with the Morels she queened it. She sat and let Annie or 
Paul wait on her as if they were her servants. She treated Mrs. 
\4orel with a certain glibness and Morel with patronage. But 
after a day or so she began to change her tune. 

William always wanted Paul or Annie to go along with 
them on their walks. It was so much more interesting. And 
Paul really did admire "Gipsy" whole-heartedly; in fact, his 
mother scarcely forgave the boy for the adulation with which 
he treated the girl. 

On the second day, when Lily said: "Oh, Annie, do you 
know where 1 left my muff?" William replied: 

"You know it is in your bedroom. Why do you ask Annie?" 

And Lily went upstairs with a cross, shut mouth. But it 


angered the young man that she made a servant of his sister. 

On the third evening William and Lily w^ere sitting together 
in the parlour by the fire in the dark. At a quarter to eleven 
Mrs. Morel w^as heard raking the fire. William came out to 
the kitchen, follow^ed by his beloved. 

"Is it as late as that, mother?" he said. She had been sitting 

"It is not late, my boy, but it is as late as I usually sit up." 

"Won't you go to bed, then?" he asked. 

"And leave you two ? No, my boy, 1 don't believe in it." 

"Can't you trust us, mother?" 

"Whether 1 can or not, I w^on't do it. You can stay till 
eleven if you like, and 1 can read." 

"Go to bed. Gyp," he said to his girl. "We v^on't keep mater 

"Annie has left the candle burning, Lily," said Mrs. Morel; 
"1 think you will see." 

"Yes, thank you. Good-night, Mrs. Morel." 

William kissed his sweetheart at the foot of the stairs, and 
she went. He returned to the kitchen. 

"Can't you trust us, mother?" he repeated, rather offended. 

"My boy, I tell you 1 don't believe in leaving two young 
things like you alone downstairs when everyone else i? 
in bed." 

And he was forced to take this answer. He kissed his mother 

At Easter he came over alone. And then he discussed his 
sweetheart endlessly with his mother. 

"You know, mother, when I'm away from her I don't care 
for her a bit. 1 shouldn't care if I never saw her again. But, 
then, when I'm with her in the evenings I am awfully fond 
of her." 

"It's a queer sort of love to marry on," said Mrs. Morel, "if 
she holds you no more than that!" 

"It is funny!" he exclaimed. It worried and perplexed him. 
"But yet — there's so much between us now I couldn't give 
her up." 

"You know best," said Mrs. Morel. "But if it is as you say, 
I wouldn't call it love — at any rate, it doesn't look much 
like it." 

"Oh, I don't know, mother. She's an orphan, and " 

They never came to any sort of conclusion. He seemed 


puzzled and rather fretted. She was rather reserved. All his 
strength and money went in keeping this girl. He could 
scarcely afford to take his mother to Nottingham when he 
came over. 

Paul's wages had been raised at Christmas to ten shillings, to 
his great joy. He was quite happy at Jordan's, but his health 
suffered from the long hours and the confinement. His mother, 
to whom he became more and more significant, thought how 
to help. 

His half -day holiday was on Monday afternoon. On a Mon- 
day morning in May, as the two sat alone at breakfast, she 
said : 

"I think it will be a fine day." 

He looked up in surprise. This meant something. 

"You know Mr. Leivers has gone to live on a new farm. 
Well, he asked me last week if 1 wouldn't go and see Mrs. 
Leivers, and I promised to bring you on Monday if it's fine. 
Shall we go?" 

"1 say, little woman, how lovely ! " he cried. "And we'll go 
this afternoon?" 

Paul hurried off to the station jubilant. Down Derby Road 
was a cherry-tree that glistened. The old brick wall by the 
Statutes ground burned scarlet, spring was a very flame of 
green. And the steep swoop of highroad lay, in its cool morn- 
ing dust, splendid with patterns of sunshine and shadow, per- 
fectly still. The trees sloped their great green shoulders proudly; 
and inside the warehouse all the morning, the boy had a vision 
of spring outside. 

When he came home at dinner-time his mother was rather 

"Are we going?" he asked. 

"When I'm ready," she replied. 

Presently he got up. 

"Go and get dressed while 1 wash up," he said. 

She did so. He washed the pots, straightened, and then took 
her boots. They were quite clean. Mrs. Morel was one of those 
naturally exquisite people who can walk in mud without dirty- 
ing their shoes. But Paul had to clean them for her. They were 
kid boots at eight shillings a pair. He, however, thought them 
the most dainty boots in the world, and he cleaned them with 
as much reverence as if they had been flowers. 

Suddenly she appeared in the inner doorway rather shyly. 


She had got a new cotton blouse on. Paul jumped up and went 

"Oh, my stars!" he exclaimed. "What a bobby-dazzler ! " 

She sniffed in a little haughty way, and put her head up. 

"It's not a bobby-dazzler at all!" she replied. "It's very 

She walked forward, whilst he hovered round her. 

"Well," she asked, quite shy, but pretending to be high and 
mighty, "do you like it?" 

"Awfully! You are a fine little woman to go jaunting out 

He went and surveyed her from the back. 

"Well," he said, "if I was walking down the street behind 
you, I should say: 'Doesn't that little person fancy herself!' " 

"Well, she doesn't," replied Mrs. Morel. "She's not sure it 
suits her." 

"Oh no! she wants to be in dirty black, looking as if she 
was wrapped in burnt paper. It does suit you, and / say you 
look nice." 

She sniffed in her little way, pleased, but pretending to know 

"Well," she said, "it's cost me just three shillings. You 
couldn't have got it ready-made for that price, could you?" 

"1 should think you couldn't," he replied. 

"And, you know, it's good stuff." 

"Awfully pretty," he said. 

The blouse was white, with a little sprig of heliotrope and 

"Too young for me, though, I'm afraid," she said. 

"Too young for you!" he exclaimed in disgust. "Why 
don't you buy some false white hair and stick it on your 

"I s'll soon have no need," she replied. "I'm going white fast 

"Well, you've no business to," he said. "What do I want 
with a white-haired mother?" 

"I'm afraid you'll have to put up with one, my lad," she said 
rather strangely. 

They set off in great style, she carrying the umbrella William 
had given her, because of the sun. Paul was considerably taller 
than she, though he was not big. He fancied himself. 

On the fallow land the young wheat shone silkily. Minton 


pit waved its plumes of white steam, coughed, and rattled 

"Now look at that!" said Mrs. Morel. Mother and son stood 
on the road to watch. Along the ridge of the great pit-hill 
crawled a little group in silhouette against the sky, a horse, a 
small truck, and a man. They climbed the incline against the 
heavens. At the end the man tipped the wagon. There was an 
undue rattle as the waste fell down the sheer slope of the 
enormous bank. 

*Tou sit a minute, mother," he said, and she took a seat on 
a bank, whilst he sketched rapidly. She was silent whilst he 
worked, looking round at the afternoon, the red cottages 
shining among their greenness. 

"The world is a wonderful place," she said, "and wonder- 
fully beautiful." 

"And so's the pit," he said. "Look how it heaps together, like 
something alive almost — a big creature that you don't know." 

"Yes," she said. "Perhaps!" 

"And all the trucks standing waiting, like a string of beasts 
to be fed," he said. 

"And very thankful 1 am they are standing," she said, "for 
that means they'll turn middling time this week/' 

"But I like the feel of men on things, while they're alive. 
There's a feel of men about trucks, because they've been 
handled with men's hands, all of them." 

"Yes," said Mrs. Morel. 

They went along under the trees of the highroad. He was 
constantly informing her, but she was interested. They passed 
the end of Nethermere, that was tossing its sunshine like petals 
lightly in its lap. Then they turned on a private road, and 
in some trepidation approached a big farm. A dog barked 
furiously. A woman came out to see. 

"Is this the way to Willey Farm?" Mrs. Morel asked. 

Paul hung behind in terror of being sent back. But the 
woman was amiable, and directed them. The mother and 
son went through the wheat and oats, over a little bridge into 
a wild meadow. Peewits, with their white breasts glistening, 
wheeled and screamed about them. The lake was still and 
blue. High overhead a heron floated. Opposite, the wood 
heaped on the hill, green and still. 

"It's a wild road, mother," said Paul. "Just like Canada." 

"Isn't it beautiful ! " said Mrs. Morel, looking round. 


"See that heron — see — see her legs?^^ 

He directed his mother, what she must see and what not. 
And she was quite content. 

"But now," she said, "which way? He told me through the 

The wood, fenced and dark, lay on their left. 

"I can feel a bit of a path this road," said Paul. "You've got 
town feet, somehow or other, you have." 

They found a little gate, and soon were in a broad green alley 
of the wood, with a new thicket of fir and pine on one hand, 
an old oak glade dipping down on the other. And among the 
oaks the bluebells stood in pools of azure, under the new green 
hazels, upon a pale fawn floor of oak-leaves. He found flowers 
for her. 

"Here's a bit of new-mown hay," he said; then, again, he 
brought her forget-me-nots. And, again, his heart hurt with 
love, seeing her hand, used with work, holding the little bunch 
of flowers he gave her. She was perfectly happy. 

But at the end of the riding was a fence to climb. Paul was 
over in a second. 

"Come," he said, "let me help you." 

"No, go away. 1 will do it in my own way." 

He stood below with his hands up ready to help her. She 
climbed cautiously. 

"What a way to climb!" he exclaimed scornfully, when she 
was safely to earth again. 

"Hateful stiles!" she cried. 

"Duffer of a little woman," he replied, "who can't get over 

In front, along the edge of the wood, was a cluster of low 
red farm buildings. The two hastened forward. Flush with 
the wood was the apple orchard, where blossom was falling 
on the grindstone. The pond was deep under a hedge and over- 
hanging oak trees. Some cows stood in the shade. The farm 
and buildings, three sides of a quadrangle, embraced the sun- 
shine towards the wood. It was very still. 

Mother and son went into the small railed garden, where was 
a scent of red gillivers. By the open door were some floury 
loaves, put out to cool. A hen was just coming to peck them. 
Then, in the doorway suddenly appeared a girl in a dirty apron. 
She was about fourteen years old, had a rosy dark face, a bunch 
of short black curls, very fine and free, and dark eyes; shy. 


questioning, a little resentful of the strangers, she disappeared. 
In a minute another figure appeared, a small, frail woman, 
rosy, with great dark brown eyes. 

"Oh!" she exclaimed, smiling with a little glow, "you've 
come, then. I am glad to see you." Her voice was intimate 
and rather sad. 

The two women shook hands. 

"Now are you sure we're not a bother to you?" said Mrs. 
Morel. "1 know what a farming life is." 

"Oh no ! We're only too thankful to see a new face, it's so 
lost up here." 

"I suppose so," said Mrs. Morel. 

They were taken through into the parlour — a long, low 
room, with a great bunch of guelder-roses in the fireplace. 
There the women talked, whilst Paul went out to survey the 
land. He was in the garden smelling the gillivers and looking 
at the plants, when the girl came out quickly to the heap of 
coal which stood by the fence. 

"I suppose these are cabbage-roses?" he said to her, pointing 
to the bushes along the fence. 

She looked at him with startled, big brown eyes. 

"I suppose they are cabbage-roses when they come out?" 
he said. 

"I don't know," she faltered. "They're white with pink 

"Then they're maiden-blush." 

Miriam flushed. She had a beautiful warm colouring. 

"1 don't know," she said. 

"You don't have much in your garden," he said. 

"This is our first year here," she answered, in a distant, 
rather superior way, drawing back and going indoors. He did 
not notice, but went his round of exploration. Presently his 
mother came out, and they went through the buildings. Paul 
was hugely delighted. 

"And I suppose you have the fowls and calves and pigs to 
look after?" said Mrs. Morel to Mrs. Lei vers. 

"No," repKed the little woman. "I can't find time to look 
after cattle, and I'm not used to it. It's as much as I can do to 
keep going in the house." 

"Well, I suppose it is," said Mrs. Morel 

Presently the girl came out. 

"Tea is ready, mother," she said in a musical, quiet voice. 


"Oh, thank you, Miriam, then we'll come," replied her 
mother, almost ingratiatingly. "Would you care to have tea 
now, Mrs. Morel?" 

"Of course," said Mrs. Morel. "Whenever it's ready." 

Paul and his mother and Mrs. Leivers had tea together. Then 
they went out into the wood that was flooded vdth bluebells, 
while furny forget-me-nots were in the paths. The mother and 
son were in ecstasy together. 

When they got back to the house, Mr. Leivers and Edgar, 
the eldest son, were in the kitchen. Edgar was about eighteen. 
Then Geoffrey and Maurice, big lads of twelve and thirteen, 
were in from school. Mr. Leivers was a good-looking man in 
the prime of life, with a golden-brown moustache, and blue 
eyes screwed up against the weather. 

The boys were condescending, but Paul scarcely observed it. 
They went round for eggs, scrambling into all sorts of places. 
As they were feeding the fowls Miriam came out. The boys 
took no notice of her. One hen, with her yellow chickens, was 
in a coop. Maurice took his hand full of corn and let the hen 
peck from it. 

"Durst you do it?" he asked of Paul. 

"Let's see," said Paul. 

He had a small hand, warm, and rather capable-looking. 
Miriam watched. He held the corn to the hen. The bird eyed 
it with her hard, bright eye, and suddenly made a peck into his 
hand. He started, and laughed. "Rap, rap, rap!" went the 
bird's beak in his palm. He laughed again, and the other boys 

"She knocks you, and nips you, but she never hurts," said 
Paul, when the last corn had gone. 

"Now, Miriam," said Maurice, "you come an' 'ave a go." 

"No," she cried, shrinking back. 

"Ha! baby. The mardy-kid!" said her brothers. 

"It doesn't hurt a bit," said Paul. "It only just nips rather 

"No," she still cried, shaking her black curls and shrinking. 

"She dursn't," said Geoffrey. "She niver durst do anything 
except recite poitry." 

"Dursn't jump off a gate, dursn't tweedle, dursn't go on a 
slide, dursn't stop a girl hittin' her. She can do novn but go 
about thinkin' herself somebody. 'The Lady of the Lake.' 
Yah ! " cried Maurice. 


Miriam was crimson with shame and misery. 

"I dare do more than you," she cried. "You're never any- 
thing but cowards and bullies." 

"Oh, cowards and bullies!" they repeated mincingly, mock- 
ing her speech. 

"Not such a clown shall anger me, 
A boor is answered silently," 

he quoted against her, shouting with laughter. 

She went indoors. Paul went with the boys into the orchard, 
where they had rigged up a parallel bar. They did feats of 
strength. He was more agile than strong, but it served. He 
fingered a piece of apple-blossom that hung low on a swinging 

"I wouldn't get the apple-blossom," said Edgar, the eldest 
brother. "There'll be no apples next year." 

"I wasn't going to get it," replied Paul, going away. 

The boys felt hostile to him; they were more interested in 
their own pursuits. He wandered back to the house to look 
for his mother. As he went round the back, he saw Miriam 
kneeling in front of the hen-coop, some maize in her hand, 
biting her lip, and crouching in an intense attitude. The hen 
was eyeing her wickedly. Very gingerly she put forward her 
hand. The hen bobbed for her. She drew back quickly with 
a cry, half of fear, half of chagrin. 

"It won't hurt you," said Paul. 

She flushed crimson and started up. 

"I only wanted to try," she said in a low voice. 

"See, it doesn't hurt," he said, and, putting only two corns in 
his palm, he let the hen peck, peck, peck at his bare hand. "It 
only makes you laugh," he said. 

She put her hand forward and dragged it away, tried again, 
and started back with a cry. He frowned. 

"Why, I'd let her take corn from my face," said Paul, "only 
she bumps a bit. She's ever so neat. If she wasn't, look how 
much ground she'd peck up every day." 

He waited grimly, and watched. At last Miriam let the bird 
peck from her hand. She gave a little cry — fear, and pain 
because of fear — rather pathetic. But she had done it, and 
she did it again. 

"There, you see," said the boy. "It doesn't hurt, does it?" 


She looked at him with dilated dark eyes. 

"No," she laughed, trembling. 

Then she rose and went indoors. She seemed to be in some 
way resentful of the boy. 

"He thinks I'm only a common girl," she thought, and she 
wanted to prove she was a grand person like the "Lady of the 

Paul found his mother ready to go home. She smiled on her 
son. He took the great bunch of flowers. Mr. and Mrs. Leivers 
walked down the fields with them. The hills were golden with 
evening; deep in the woods showed the darkening purple of 
bluebells. It was everywhere perfectly still, save for the 
rustling of leaves and birds. 

"But it is a beautiful place," said Mrs. Morel. 

"Yes," answered Mr. Leivers; "it's a nice little place, if only 
it weren't for the rabbits. The pasture's bitten down to nothing. 
I dunno if ever I s'll get the rent off it." 

He clapped his hands, and the field broke into motion near 
the woods, brown rabbits hopping everywhere. 

"Would you believe it!" exclaimed Mrs. Morel. 

She and Paul went on alone together. 

"Wasn't it lovely, mother?" he said quietly. 

A thin moon was coming out. His heart was full of happi- 
ness till it hurt. His mother had to chatter, because she, too, 
wanted to cry with happiness. 

"Now wouldn't I help that man!" she said. ^'Wouldn't I 
see to the fowls and the young stock! And I'd learn to milk, 
and I'd talk with him, and I'd plan with him. My word, if I 
were his wife, the farm would be run, I know ! But there, she 
hasn't the strength — she simply hasn't the strength. She ought 
never to have been burdened like it, you know. I'm sorry for 
her, and I'm sorry for him too. My word, if I'd had him, I 
shouldn't have thought him a bad husband ! Not that she does 
either; and she's very lovable." 

William came home again with his sweetheart at the Whit- 
suntide. He had one week of his holidays then. It was beau- 
tiful weather. As a rule, William and Lily and Paul went out 
in the morning together for a walk. William did not talk 
to his beloved much, except to tell her things from his boy- 
hood. Paul talked endlessly to both of them. They lay down, 
all three, in a meadow by Minton Church. On one side, by the 
Castle Farm, was a beautiful quivering screen of poplars. Haw- 


thorn was dropping from the hedges; penny daisies and ragged 
robin were in the field, like laughter. William, a big fellow of 
twenty-three, thinner now and even a bit gaunt, lay back in 
the sunshine and dreamed, while she fingered with his hair. 
Paul went gathering the big daisies. She had taken off her hat; 
her hair was black as a horse's mane. Paul came back and 
threaded daisies in her jet-black hair — ^big spangles of white 
and yellow, and just a pink touch of ragged robin. 

"Now you look like a young witch- woman," the boy said to 
her. "Doesn't she, William?" 

Lily laughed. William opened his eyes and looked at her. 
In his gaze was a certain baffled look of misery and fierce 

"Has he made a sight of me?" she asked, laughing down on 
her lover. 

"That he has ! " said William, smiling. 

He looked at her. Her beauty seemed to hurt him. He glanced 
at her flower-decked head and frowned. 

"You look nice enough, if that's what you want to know," 
he said. 

And she walked without her hat. In a little while William 
recovered, and was rather tender to her. Coming to a bridge, 
he carved her initials and his in a heart. 

L. L. w. 
w. M. 

She watched his strong, nervous hand, with its glistening 
hairs and freckles, as he carved, and she seemed fascinated 
by it. 

All the time there was a feeling of sadness and warmth, and 
a certain tenderness in the house, whilst William and Lily were 
at home. But often he got irritable. She had brought, for an 
eight-days' stay, five dresses and six blouses. 

"Oh, would you mind," she said to Annie, "washing me these 
two blouses, and these things?" 

And Annie stood washing when William and Lily went out 
the next morning. Mrs. Morel was furious. And sometimes the 
young man, catching a glimpse of his sweetheart's attitude 
towards his sister, hated her. 

Oh Sunday morning she looked very beautiful in a dress of 
foulard, silky and sweeping, and blue as a jay-bird's feather, and 


in a large cream hat covered with many roses, mostly crimson. 
Nobody could admire her enough. But in the evening, when 
she was going out, she asked again : 

"Chubby, have you got my gloves?" 

"Which?" asked William 

"My new black suede." 


There was a hunt. She had lost them. 

"Look here, mother," said William, "that's the fourth pair 
she's lost since Christmas — at five shillings a pair!" 

"You only gave me two of them," she remonstrated. 

And in the evening, after supper, he stood on the hearth-rug 
whilst she sat on the sofa, and he seemed to hate her. In the 
afternoon he had left her whilst he went to see some old 
friend. She had sat looking at a book. After supper William 
wanted to write a letter. 

"Here is your book, Lily," said Mrs. Morel. "Would you care 
to go on with it for a few minutes?" 

"No, thank you," said the girl. "1 will sit still." 

"But it is so dull." 

William scribbled irritably at a great rate. As he sealed the 
envelope he said : 

"Read a book ! Why, she's never read a book in her life." 

"Oh, go along!" said Mrs. Morel, cross with the exaggeration. 

"It's true, mother — she hasn't," he cried, jumping up and 
taking his old position on the hearth-rug. "She's never read a 
book in her life." 

" 'Er's like me," chimed in Morel. " 'Er canna see what there 
is i' books, ter sit borin' your nose in 'em for, nor more can 1." 

"But you shouldn't say these things," said Mrs. Morel to her 

"But it's true, mother — she can't read. What did you give 

"Well, I gave her a little thing of Annie Swan's. Nobody 
wants to read dry stuff on Sunday afternoon." 

"Well, I'll bet she didn't read ten lines of it." 

"You are mistaken," said his mother. 

All the time Lily sat miserably on the sofa. He turned to 
her swiftly. 

"Did you read any?" he asked. 

"Yes, I did," she replied. 

"How much?" 


"I don't know how many pages." 

"Tell me one thing you read." 

She could not. 

She never got beyond the second page. He read a great deal, 
and had a quick, active intelligence. She could understand 
nothing but love-making and chatter. He w^as accustomed to 
having all his thoughts sifted through his mother's mind; so, 
when he wanted companionship, and was asked in reply to be 
the billing and twittering lover, he hated his betrothed. 

"You know, mother," he said, when he was alone with her 
at night, "she's no idea of money, she's so wessel-brained. 
When she's paid, she'll suddenly buy such rot as marrons 
glacis, and then / have to buy her season ticket, and her extras, 
even her underclothing. And she wants to get married, and 1 
think myself we might as well get married next year. But at 
this rate " 

"A fine mess of a marriage it would be," replied his mother. 
"I should consider it again, my boy." 

"Oh, well, I've gone too far to break off now," he said, "and 
so I shall get married as soon as 1 can." 

"Very well, my boy. If you will, you will, and there's no 
stopping you; but I tell you, / can't sleep when I think about it." 

"Oh, she'll be all right, mother. We shall manage." 

"And she lets you buy her underclothing?" asked the mother. 

"Well," he began apologetically, "she didn't ask me; but one 
morning — and it was cold — 1 found her on the station shiver- 
ing, not able to keep still; so 1 asked her if she was well 
wrapped up. She said: 'I think so.' So 1 said: 'Have you got 
warm underthings on?' And she said: 'No, they were cotton.' 
I asked her why on earth she hadn't got something thicker on 
in weather like that, and she said because she had nothing. 
And there she is — a bronchial subject! I had to take her and 
get some warm things. Well, mother, I shouldn't mind the 
money if we had any. And, you know, she ought to keep 
enough to pay for her season-ticket; but no, she comes to me 
about that, and I have to find the money." 

"It's a poor lookout," said Mrs. Morel bitterly. 

He was pale, and his rugged face, that used to be so perfectly 
careless and laughing, was stamped with conflict and despair. 

"But I can't give her up now; it's gone too far," he said. "And, 
besides, for some things 1 couldn't do without her." 

"My boy, remember you're taking your life in your hands," 



said Mrs. Morel. "Nothing is as bad as a marriage that's a hope- 
less failure. Mine was bad enough, God knows, and ought to 
teach you something; but it might have been worse by a long 

He leaned with his back against the side of the chimney- 
piece, his hands in his pockets. He was a big, raw-boned man, 
who looked as if he would go to the world's end if he wanted 
to. But she saw the despair on his face. 

"I couldn't give her up now," he said. 

"Well," she said, "remember there are worse wrongs than 
breaking off an engagement." 

"I can't give her up now," he said. 

The clock ticked on; mother and son remained in silence, a 
conflict between them; but he would say no more. At last she 

"Well, go to bed, my son. You'll feel better in the morning, 
and perhaps you'll know better." 

He kissed her, and went. She raked the fire. Her heart was 
heavy now as it had never been. Before, with her husband, 
things had seemed to be breaking down in her, but they did not 
destroy her power to live. Now her soul felt lamed in itself. It 
was her hope that was struck. 

And so often William manifested the same hatred towards 
his betrothed. On the last evening at home he was railing 
against her. 

"Well," he said, "if you don't believe me, what she's like, 
would you believe she has been confirmed three times?" 

"Nonsense!" laughed Mrs. Morel. 

"Nonsense or not, she has\ That's what confirmation means 
for her — a bit of a theatrical show where she can cut a figure." 

"1 haven't, Mrs. Morel!" cried the girl — "I haven't! it is 
not true!" 

"What!" he cried, flashing round on her. "Once in Bromley, 
once in Beckenham, and once somewhere else." 

"Nowhere else!" she said, in tears — "nowh'ere else!" 

"It was\ And if it wasn't why were you confirmed twice?" 

"Once I was only fourteen, Mrs. Morel," she pleaded, tears 
in her eyes. 

"Yes," said Mrs. Morel; "I can quite understand it, child. 
Take no notice of him. You ought to be ashamed, William, 
saying such things." 

"But it's true. She's religious — she had blue velvet Prayer- 


Books — and she's not as much religion, or anything else, in 
her than that table-leg. Gets confirmed three times for show, 
to show herself off, and that's how she is in everything — 
everything ! " 

The girl sat on the sofa, crying. She was not strong. 

"As for love I" he cried, "you might as well ask a fly to love 
you ! It'll love settling on you " 

"Now, say no more," commanded Mrs. Morel. "If you want 
to say these things, you must find another place than this. I 
am ashamed of you, William ! Why don't you be more manly. 
To do nothing but find fault with a girl, and then pretend 
you're engaged to her!" 

Mrs. Morel subsided in wrath and indignation. 

William was silent, and later he repented, kissed and com- 
forted the girl. Yet it was true, what he had said. He hated 

When they were going away, Mrs. Morel accompanied them 
as far as Nottingham. It was a long way to Keston station. 

"You know, mother," he said to her, "Gyp's shallow. Nothing 
goes deep with her." 

"William, 1 wish you wouldn't say these things," said Mrs. 
Morel, very uncomfortable for the girl who walked beside her. 

"But it doesn't, mother. She's very much in love with me 
now, but if I died she'd have forgotten me in three months." 

Mrs. Morel was afraid. Her heart beat furiously, hearing the 
quiet bitterness of her son's last speech. 

"How do you know?" she replied. "You don't know, and 
therefore you've no right to say such a thing." 

"He's always saying these things!" cried the girl. 

"In three months after I was buried you'd have somebody 
else, and I should be forgotten," he said. "And that's your love!" 

Mrs. Morel saw them into the train in Nottingham, then she 
returned home. 

"There's one comfort," she said to Paul — "he'll never have 
any money to. marry on, that I am sure of. And so she'll save 
him that way." 

So she took cheer. Matters were not yet very desperate. She 
firmly believed William would never marry his Gipsy. She 
waited, and she kept Paul near to her. 

All summer long William's letters had a feverish tone; he 
seemed unnatural and intense. Sometimes he was exaggeratedly 
jolly, usually he was flat and bitter in his letter. 


"Ah," his mother said, "I'm afraid he's ruining himself 
against that creature, who isn't worthy of his love — no, no 
more than a rag doll." 

He wanted to come home. The midsummer holiday was 
gone; it was a long while to Christmas. He wrote in wild excite- 
ment, saying he could come for Saturday and Sunday at Goose 
Fair, the first week in October. 

"You are not well, my boy," said his mother, when she 
saw him. 

She was almost in tears at having him to herself again. 

"No, I've not been well," he said. "I've seemed to have a 
dragging cold all the last month, but it's going, I think." 

It was sunny October weather. He seemed wild with joy, 
like a schoolboy escaped; then again he was silent and reserved. 
He was more gaunt than ever, and there was a haggard look in 
his eyes. 

"You are doing too much," said his mother to him. 

He was doing extra work, trying to make some money to 
marry on, he said. He only talked to his mother once on 
the Saturday night; then he was sad and tender about his 

"And yet, you know, mother, for all that, if I died she'd be 
broken-hearted for two months, and then she'd start to forget 
me. You'd see, she'd never come home here to look at my 
grave, not even once." 

"Why, William," said his mother, "you're not going to die, 
so why talk about it?" 

"But whether or not " he replied. 

"And she can't help it. She is like that, and if you choose 
her — well, you can't grumble," said his mother. 

On the Sunday morning, as he was putting his collar on : 

"Look," he said to his mother, holding up his chin, "what a 
rash my collar's made under my chin!" 

Just at the junction of chin and throat was a big red inflama- 

"It ought not to do that," said his mother. "Here, put a 
bit of this soothing ointment on. You should wear different 

He went away on Sunday midnight, seeming better and more 
solid for his two days at home. 

On Tuesday morning came a telegram from London that he 
was ill. Mrs. Morel got off her knees from washing the floor. 


read the telegram, called a neighbour, went to her landlady 
and borrowed a sovereign, put on her things, and set off. She 
hurried to Keston, caught an express for London in Nottingham. 
She had to wait in Nottingham nearly an hour. A small figure 
in her black bonnet, she was anxiously asking the porters if 
they knew how to get to Elmers End. The journey was three 
hours. She sat in her corner in a kind of stupor, never moving. 
At King's Cross still no one could tell her how to get to Elmers 
End. Carrying her string bag, that contained her nightdress, a 
comb and brush, she went from person to person. At last they 
sent her underground to Cannon Street. 

It was six o'clock when she arrived at William's lodging. 
The blinds were not down. 

"How is he?" she asked. 

"No better," said the landlady. 

She followed the woman upstairs. William lay on the bed, 
with bloodshot eyes, his face rather discoloured. The clothes 
were tossed about, there was no fire in the room, a glass of 
milk stood on the stand at his bedside. No one had been with 

"Why, my son!" said the mother bravely. 

He did not answer. He looked at her, but did not see her. 
Then he began to say, in a dull voice, as if repeating a letter 
from dictation : "Owing to a leakage in the hold of this vessel, 
the sugar had set, and become converted into rock. It needed 
hacking " 

He was quite unconscious. It had been his business to 
examine some such cargo of sugar in the Port of London. 

"How long has he been like this?" the mother asked the land- 

"He got home at six o'clock on Monday morning, and he 
seemed to sleep all day; then in the night we heard him talking, 
and this morning he asked for you. So I wired, and we fetched 
the doctor." 

"Will you have a fire made?" 

Mrs. Morel tried to soothe her son, to keep him still. 

The doctor came. It was pneumonia, and, he said, a peculiar 
erysipelas, which had started under the chin where the collar 
chafed, and was spreading over the face. He hoped it would 
not get to the brain. 

Mrs. Morel settled down to nurse. She prayed for William, 
prayed that he would recognise her. But the young man's face 


grew more discoloured. In the night she struggled with him. 
He raved, and raved, and would not come to consciousness. At 
two o'clock, in a dreadful paroxysm, he died. 

Mrs. Morel sat perfectly still for an hour in the lodging bed- 
room; then she roused the household. 

At six o'clock, with the aid of the charwoman, she laid him 
out; then she went round the dreary London village to the 
registrar and the doctor. 

At nine o'clock to the cottage on Scargill Street came another 

"William died last night. Let father come, bring money." 

Annie, Paul, and Arthur were at home; Mr. Morel was gone 
to work. The three children said not a word. Annie began to 
whimper with fear; Paul set off for his father. 

It was a beautiful day. At Brinsley pit the white steam 
melted slowly in the sunshine of a soft blue sky; the wheels 
of the headstocks twinkled high up; the screen, shuffling its 
coal into the trucks, made a busy noise. 

"I want my father; he's got to go to London," said the boy 
to the first man he met on the bank. 

"Tha wants Walter Morel? Go in theer an' tell Joe Ward." 

Paul went into the little top office. 

"I want my father; he's got to go to London." 

"Thy feyther? Is he down? What's his name?" 

"Mr. Morel." 

"What, Walter? Is owt amiss?" 

"He's got to go to London." 

The man went to the telephone and rang up the bottom 

"Walter Morel's wanted, number 42, Hard. Summat's amiss; 
there's his lad here." 

Then he turned round to Paul. 

"He'll be up in a few minutes," he said. 

Paul wandered out to the pit-top. He watched the chair come 
up, with its wagon of coal. The great iron cage sank back on 
its rest, a full carfle was hauled off, an empty tram run on 
to the chair, a bell ting'ed somewhere, the chair heaved, then 
dropped like a stone. 

Paul did not realise William was dead; it was impossible, with 
such a bustle going on. The puller-off swung the small truck 
on to the turn-table, another man ran with it along the bank 
down the curving lines. 


"And William is dead, and my mother's in London, and what 
will she be doing?" the boy asked himself, as if it were a 

He watched chair after chair come up, and still no father. 
At last, standing beside a wagon, a man's form ! the chair sank 
on its rests. Morel stepped off. He was slightly lame from an 

"Is it thee, Paul? Is 'e worse?" 

"You've got to go to London." 

The two walked off the pit-bank, where men were watching 
curiously. As they came out and went along the railway, with 
the sunny autumn field on one side and a wall of trucks on the 
other. Morel said in a frightened voice : 

" 'E's niver gone, child?" 


"When wor't?" 

"Last night. We had a telegram from my mother." 

Morel walked on a few strides, then leaned up against a 
truck-side, his hand over his eyes. He was not crying. Paul 
stood looking round, waiting. On the weighing machine a 
truck trundled slowly. Paul saw everything, except his father 
leaning against the truck as if he were tired. 

Morel had only once before been to London. He set off, 
scared and peaked, to help his wife. That was on Tuesday. The 
children were left alone in the house. Paul went to work, 
Arthur went to school, and Annie had in a friend to be with 

On Saturday night, as Paul was turning the corner, coming 
home from Keston, he saw his mother and father, who had 
come to Sethley Bridge Station. They were walking in silence 
in the dark, tired, straggling apart. The boy waited. 

"Mother ! " he said, in the darkness. 

Mrs. Morel's small figure seemed not to observe. He spoke 

"Paul!" she said, uninterestedly. 

She let him kiss her, but she seemed unaware of him. 

In the house she was the same — small, white, and mute. She 
noticed nothing, she said nothing, only : 

"The coffin will be here to-night, Walter. You'd better see 
about some help." Then, turning to the children: "We're 
bringing him home." 

Then she relapsed into the same mute looking into space. 


her hands folded on her lap. Paul, looking at her, felt he could 
not breathe. The house was dead silent. 

"I went to work, mother," he said plaintively. 

"Did you?" she answered, dully. 

After half an hour Morel, troubled and bewildered, came in 

"Wheer s'll we ha'e him when he does come?" he asked his 

"In the front-room." 

"Then I'd better shift th' table?" 


"An' ha'e him across th' chairs?" 

"You know there Yes, I suppose so." 

Morel and Paul went, with a candle, into the parlour. There 
was no gas there. The father unscrewed the top of the big 
mahogany oval table, and cleared the middle of the room; then 
he arranged six chairs opposite each other, so that the coffin 
could stand on their beds. 

"You niver seed such a length as he is!" said the miner, and 
watching anxiously as he worked. 

Paul went to the bay window and looked out. The ash-tree 
stood monstrous and black in front of the wide darkness. It 
was a faintly luminous night. Paul went back to his mother. 

At ten o'clock Morel called : 

"He's here!" 

Everyone started. There was a noise of unbarring and un- 
locking the front door, which opened straight from the night 
into the room. 

"Bring another candle," called Morel. 

Annie and Arthur went. Paul followed with his mother. He 
stood with his arm round her waist in the inner doorway. Down 
the middle of the cleared room waited six chairs, face to face. 
In the window, against the lace curtains, Arthur held up one 
candle, and by the open door, against the night, Annie stood 
leaning forward, her brass candlestick glittering. 

There was the noise of wheels. Outside in the darkness of the 
street below Paul could see horses and a black vehicle, one 
lamp, and a few pale faces; then some men, miners, all in their 
shirt-sleeves, seemed to struggle in the obscurity. Presently two 
men appeared, bowed beneath a great weight. It was Morel 
and his neighbour. 

"Steady I" called Morel, out of breath. 


He and his fellow mounted the steep garden step, heaved into 
the candlelight with their gleaming coffin-end. Limbs of other 
men were seen struggling behind. Morel and Burns, in front, 
staggered; the great dark weight swayed. 

"Steady, steady!" cried Morel, as if in pain. 

All the six bearers were up in the small garden, holding the 
great coffin aloft. There were three more steps to the door. 
The yellow lamp of the carriage shone alone down the black 

"Now then!" said Morel. 

The coffin swayed, the men began to mount the three steps 
with their load. Annie's candle flickered, and she whimpered 
as the first men appeared, and the limbs and bowed heads of 
six men struggled to climb into the room, bearing the coffin 
that rode like sorrow on their living flesh. 

"Oh, my son — my son!" Mrs. Morel sang softly, and each 
time the coffin swung to the unequal climbing of the men : "Oh, 
my son — my son — my son ! " 

"Mother !" Paul whimpered, his hand round her waist. 

She did not hear. 

"Oh, my son — my son!" she repeated. 

Paul saw drops of sweat fall from his father's brow. Six men 
were in the room — six coatless men, with yielding, struggling 
limbs, filling the room and knocking against the furniture. The 
coffin veered, and was gently lowered on to the chairs. The 
sweat fell from Morel's face on its boards. 

"My word, he's a weight!" said a man, and the five miners 
sighed, bowed, and, trembling with the struggle, descended the 
steps again, closing the door behind them. 

The family was alone in the parlour with the great polished 
box. William, when laid out, was six feet four inches long. 
Like a monument lay the bright brown, ponderous coffin. Paul 
thought it would never be got out of the room again. His 
mother was stroking the polished wood. 

They buried him on the Monday in the little cemetery on the 
hillside that looks over the fields at the big church and the 
houses. It was sunny, and the white chrysanthemums frilled 
themselves in the warmth. 

Mrs. Morel could not be persuaded, after this, to talk and 
take her old bright interest in life. She remained shut off. All 
the way home in the train she had said to herself : "If only it 
could have been me ! " 


When Paul came home at night he found his mother sittmg, 
her day's work done, with hands folded in her lap upon her 
coarse apron. She always used to have changed her dress and 
put on a black apron, before. Now Annie set his supper, and 
his mother sat looking blankly in front of her, her mouth shut 
tight. Then he beat his brains for news to tell her. 

"Mother, Miss Jordan was down to-day, and she said my 
sketch of a colliery at work was beautiful." 

But Mrs. Morel took no notice. Night after night he forced 
himself to tell her things, although she did not listen. It drove 
him almost insane to have her thus. At last: 

"What's a-matter, mother?" he asked. 

She did not hear. 

"What's a-matter?" he persisted. "Mother, what's a-matter?" 

"You know what's the matter," she said irritably, turning 

The lad — he was sixteen years old — went to bed drearily. 
He was cut off and wretched through October, November and 
December. His mother tried, but she could not rouse herself. 
She could only brood on her dead son; he had been let to die 
so cruelly. 

At last, on December 23, with his five shillings Christmas- 
box in his pocket, Paul w^andered blindly home. His mother 
looked at him, and her heart stood still. 

"What's the matter?" she asked. 

"I'm badly, mother!" he replied. "Mr. Jordan gave me five 
shillings for a Christmas-box!" 

He handed it to her with trembling hands. She put it on the 

"You aren't glad!" he reproached her; but he trembled 

"Where hurts you?" she said, unbuttoning his overcoat. 

It was the old question. 

"I feel badly, mother." 

She undressed him and put him to bed. He had pneumonia 
dangerously, the doctor said. 

"Might he never have had it if I'd kept him at home, not let 
him go to Nottingham?" was one of the first things she asked. 

"He might not have been so bad," said the doctor. 

Mrs. Morel stood condemned on her own ground. 

"I should have watched the living, not the dead," she told 
herself. ^ ^n 


Paul was very ill. His mother lay in bed at nights with him; 
they could not afford a nurse. He grew worse, and the crisis 
approached. One night he tossed into consciousness in the 
ghastly, sickly feeling of dissolution, when all the cells in the 
body seem in intense irritability to be breaking down, and 
consciousness makes a last flare of struggle, like madness. 

"I s'll die, mother!" he cried, heaving for breath on the 

She lifted him up, crying in a small voice: 

"Oh, my son — my son!" 

That brought him to. He realised her. His whole will rose 
up and arrested him. He put his head on her breast, and took 
ease of her for love. 

"For some things," said his aunt, "it was a good thing Paul 
was ill that Christmas. I believe it saved his mother." 

Paul was in bed for seven weeks. He got up white and 
fragile. His father had bought him a pot of scarlet and gold 
tulips. They used to flame in the window in the March sun- 
shine as he sat on the sofa chattering to his mother. The two 
knitted together in perfect intimacy. Mrs. Morel's life now 
rooted itself in Paul. 

William had been a prophet. Mrs. Morel had a little present 
and a letter from Lily at Christmas. Mrs. Morel's sister had a 
letter at the New Year. 

/ "I was at a ball last night. Some delightful people were 

mere, and 1 enjoyed myself thoroughly," said the letter. "I 

had every dance — did not sit out one." 

/ Mrs. Morel never heard any more of her. 

/ Morel and his wife were gentle with each other for some time 

/ after the death of their son. He would go into a kind of daze, 

staring wide-eyed and blank across the room. Then he got up 

suddenly and hurried out to the Three Spots, returning in his 

normal state. But never in his life would he go for a walk up 

Shepstone, past the office where his son had worked, and he 

always avoided the cemetery. 




Paul had been many times up to Willey Farm during the 
autumn. He was friends with the two youngest boys. Edgar 
the eldest, would not condescend at first. And Miriam also 
refused to be approached. She was afraid of being set at 
nought, as by her own brothers. The girl was romantic in 
her soul. Everywhere was a Walter Scott heroine being loved 
by men wdth helmets or with plumes in their caps. She her- 
self was something of a princess turned into a swine-girl in her 
own imagination. And she was afraid lest this boy, who, never- 
theless, looked something like a Walter Scott hero, who could 
paint and speak French, and knew what algebra meant, and 
who went by train to Nottingham every day, might consider 
her simply as the swine-girl, unable to perceive the princess 
beneath; so she held aloof. 

Her great companion was her mother. They were both 
brown-eyed, and inclined to be mystical, such women as 
treasure religion inside them, breathe it in their nostrils, and 
see the whole of life in a mist thereof. So to Miriam, Christ 
and God made one great figure, which she loved tremblingly 
and passionately when a tremendous sunset burned out the 
western sky, and Ediths, and Lucys, and Rowenas, Brian de Bois 
Guilberts, Rob Roys, and Guy Mannerings, rustled the sunny 
leaves in the morning, or sat in her bedroom aloft, alone, when 
it snowed. That was life to her. For the rest, she drudged in 
the house, which work she would not have minded had not 
her clean red floor been mucked up immediately by the 
trampling farm-boots of her brothers. She madly wanted her 
little brother of four to let her swathe him and stifle him in 
her love; she went to church reverently, with bowed head, and 
quivered in anguish from the vulgarity of the other choir-girls 
and from the common-sounding voice of the curate; she fought 
with her brothers, whom she considered brutal louts; and she 
held not her father in too high esteem because he did not carry 
any mystical ideals cherished in his heart, but only wanted to 



have as easy a time as he could, and his meals when he was 
ready for them. 

She hated her position as swine-girl. She wanted to be con- 
sidered. She wanted to learn, thinking that if she could read, 
as Paul said he could read, "Colomba", or the "Voyage autour 
de ma Chambre", the world would have a different face for 
her and a deepened respect. She could not be princess by 
wealth or standing. So she was mad to have learning whereon 
to pride herself. For she was different from other folk, and 
must not be scooped up among the common fry. Learning was 
the only distinction to which she thought to aspire. 

Her beauty — ^that of a shy, wild, quiveringly sensitive thing 
— seemed nothing to her. Even her soul, so strong for rhapsody, 
was not enough. She must have something to reinforce her 
pride, because she fel t different from other peo ple. Paul she 
eyed rather wisllUlly. On the wnole, i>lie"i>(JUi'iied"'the male 
sex. But here was a new specimen, quick, light, graceful, who 
could be gentle and who could be sad, and who was clever, 
and who knew a lot, and who had a death in the family. The 
boy's poor morsel of learning exalted him almost sky-high in 
her esteem. Yet she tried hard to scorn him, because he would 
not see in her the princess but only the swine-girl. And he 
scarcely observed her. 

Then he was so ill, and she felt he would be weak. Then she 
would be stronger than he. Then she could love him. If she 
could be mistress of him in his weakness, take care of him, if 
he could depend on her, if she could, as it were, have him in 
her arms, how she would love him ! 

As soon as the skies brightened and plum-blossom was out, 
Paul drove off in the milkman's heavy float up to Willey Farm. 
Mr. Leivers shouted in a kindly fashion at the boy, then clicked 
to the horse as they climbed the hill slowly, in the freshness of 
the morning. White clouds went on their way, crowding to 
the back of the hills that were rousing in the spring-time. The 
water of Nethermere lay below, very blue against the seared 
meadows and the thorn-trees. 

It was four and a half miles' drive. Tiny buds on the hedges, 
vivid as copper-green, were opening into rosettes; and thrushes 
called, and blackbirds shrieked and scolded. It was a new, 
glamorous world. 

Miriam, peeping through the kitchen window, saw the horse 
walk through the big white gate into the farmyard that was 




backed by the oak-wood, still bare. Then a youth in a heavy 
overcoat climbed dov^n. He put up his hands for the whip and 
the rug that the good-looking, ruddy farmer handed down to 

Miriam appeared in the doorway. She was nearly sixteen, 
very beautiful, with her warm colouring, her gravity, her eyes 
dilating suddenly like an ecstasy. 

"I say," said Paul, turning shyly aside, "your daffodils are 
nearly out. Isn't it early? But don't they look cold?" 

"Cold!" said Miriam, in her musical, caressing voice. 

"The green on their buds " and he faltered into silence 


"Let me take the rug," said Miriam over-gently. 

"I can carry it," he answered, rather injured. But he yielded 
it to her. 

Then Mrs. Leivers appeared. 

"I'm sure you're tired and cold," she said. "Let me take 
your coat. It is heavy. You mustn't walk far in it." 

She helped him off with his coat. . He was qu ite nn^j^c^prj^ 
^ such attention . She was almost smotherea under its 

"Why, mother," laughed the farmer as he passed through the 
kitchen, swinging the great milk-churns, "you've got almost 
more than you can manage there." 

She beat up the sofa cushions for the youth. 

The kitchen was very small and irregular. The farm had 
been originally a labourer's cottage. And the furniture was old 
and battered. But Paul loved it — loved the sack-bag that formed 
the hearthrug, and the funny little corner under the stairs, and 
the small window deep in the corner, through which, bending 
a little, he could see the plum trees in the back garden and the 
lovely round hills beyond. 

"Won't you lie down?" said Mrs. Leivers. 

"Oh no; I'm not tired," he said. "Isn't it lovely coming out, 
don't you think? I saw a sloe-bush in blossom and a lot of 
celandines. I'm glad it's sunny." 

"Can I give you anything to eat or to drink?" 

"No, thank you." 

"How's your mother?" 

"I think she's tired now. I think she's had too much to do. 
Perhaps in a little while she'll go to Skegness wdth me. Then 
she'll be able to rest. I s'U be glad if she can." 


"Yes," replied Mrs. Leivers. "It's a wonder she isn't ill 

Miriam was moving about preparing dinner. Paul watched 
everything that happened. His face was pale and thin, but his 
eyes were quick and bright with life as ever. He watched the 
strange, almost rhapsodic way in which the girl moved about, 
carrying a great stew-jar to the oven, or looking in the sauce- 
pan. The atmosphere was different from that of his own home, 
where everything seemed so ordinary. When Mr. Leivers called 
loudly outside to the horse, that was reaching over to feed on 
the rose-bushes in the garden, the girl started, looked round 
with dark eyes, as if something had come breaking in on her 
world. There was a sense of silence inside the house and out. 
Miriam seemed as in some dreamy tale, a maiden in bondage, 
her spirit dreaming in a land far away and magical. And her 
discoloured, old blue frock and her broken boots seemed only 
like the romantic rags of King Cophetua's beggar-maid. 

She suddenly became aware of his keen blue eyes upon her, 
taking her all in. Instantly her broken boots and her frayed 
old frock hurt her. She resented his seeing everything. Even 
he knew that her stocking was not pulled up. She went into 
the scullery, blushing deeply. And afterwards her hands 
trembled slightly at her work. She nearly dropped all she 
handled. When her inside dream was shaken, her body 
quivered with trepidation. She resented that he saw so much. 

Mrs. Leivers sat for some time talking to the boy, although 
she was needed at her work. She was too polite to leave him. 
Presently she excused herself and rose. After a while she 
looked into the tin saucepan. 

"Oh dear, Miriam," she cried, "these potatoes have boiled 

Miriam started as if she had been stung. 

"Have they, mother?" she cried. 

"I shouldn't care, Miriam," said the mother, "if 1 hadn't 
trusted them to you." She peered into the pan. 

The girl stiffened as if from a blow. Her dark eyes dilated; 
she remained standing in the same spot. 

"Well," she answered, gripped tight in self-conscious shame, 
"I'm sure I looked at them five minutes since." 

"Yes," said the mother, "I know^ it's easily done." 

"They're not much burned," said Paul. "It doesn't matter, 
does it?" 


Mrs. Lei vers looked at the youth with her brown, hurt 

"It wouldn't matter but for the boys," she said to him. "Only 
Miriam knows what a trouble they make if the potatoes are 

"Then," thought Paul to himself, "you shouldn't let them 
make a trouble." 

After a while Edgar came in. He wore leggings, and his 
boots were covered with earth. He was rather small, rather 
formal, for a farmer. He glanced at Paul, nodded to him 
distantly, and said: 

"Dinner ready?" 

"Nearly, Edgar," replied the mother apologetically. 

"I'm ready for mine," said the young man, taking up the 
newspaper and reading. Presently the rest of the family 
trooped in. Dinner was served. The meal went rather 
brutally. The over-gentleness and apologetic tone of the 
mother brought out all the brutality of manners in the sons. 
Edgar tasted the potatoes, moved his mouth quickly like a 
rabbit, looked indignantly at his mother, and said: 

"These potatoes are burnt, mother." 

"Yes, Edgar. 1 forgot them for a minute. Perhaps you'll 
have bread if you can't eat them." 

Edgar looked in anger across at Miriam. 

"What was Miriam doing that she couldn*t attend to them?" 
he said. 

Miriam looked up. Her mouth opened, her dark eyes blazed 
and winced, but she said nothing. She swallowed her anger 
and her shame, bowing her dark head. 

"I'm sure she was trying hard," said the mother. 

"She hasn't got sense even to boil the potatoes," said Edgar. 
"What is she kept at home for?" 

"On'y for eating everything that's left in th' pantry," said 

"They don't forget that potato-pie against our Miriam," 
laughed the father. 

She was utterly humiliated. The mother sat in silence, 
suffering, like some saint out of place at the brutal board. 

It puzzled Paul. He wondered vaguely why all this intense 
feeling went running because of a few burnt potatoes. The 
mother exalted everything — even a bit of housework — to the 
plane of a religious trust. The sons resented this; they felt 


I themselves cut away underneath, and they answered with 
brutahty and also with a sneering superciliousness. 

Paul was just opening out from childhood into manhood. 
This atmosphere, where everything took a religious value, 
came with a subtle fascination to him. There was something 
in the air. His o^vn mother w as lojg ^icaL Here there was some- 
thing different, something he loved, something that at times 
he hated. 

Miriam quarrelled with her brothers fiercely. Later in the 
afternoon, when they had gone away again, her mother said: 

"You disappointed me at dinner-time, Miriam." 

The girl dropped her head. 

"They are such brutes \" she suddenly cried, looking up 
with flashing eyes. 

"But hadn't you promised not to answer them?" said the 
mother. "And 1 believed in you. I can't stand it when you 

"But they're so hateful!" cried Miriam, "and — and low." 

"Yes, dear. But how often have I asked you not to answer 
Edgar back? Can't you let him say what he likes?" . /i 

"But why should he say what he likes?" | / 

"Aren't you strong enough to bear it, Miriam, if even for ' 
\ my sake? Are you so weak that you must wrangle with 
\ them?" 

Mrs. Leivers stuck unflinchingly to this doctrine of "the 
other cheek". She could not instil it at all into the boys. With 
the girls she succeeded better, and Miriam was the child of 
her heart. The boys loathed the other cheek when it was pre- 
sented to them. Miriam was often sufficiently lofty to turn it. 
Then they spat on her and hated her. But she walked in her 
proud humility, living within herself. 

There was always this feeling of jangle and discord in the 
Leivers family. Although the boys resented so bitterly this 
eternal appeal to their deeper feelings of resignation and 
proud humility, yet it had its effect on them. They could not 
establish between themselves and an outsider just the ordinary 
human feeling and unexaggerated friendship; they were 
always restless for the something deeper. Ordinary folk 
seemed shallow to them, trivial and inconsiderable. And 
so they were unaccustomed, painfully uncouth in the 
simplest social intercourse, suffering, and yet insolent in their 
superiority. Then beneath was the yearning for the soul- 



intimacy to which they could not attain because they were 
too dumb, and every approach to close connection was blocked 
by their clumsy contempt of other people. They wanted 
genuine intimacy, but they could not get even normally near 
to anyone, because they scorned to take the first steps, they 
scorned the triviality which forms common human intercourse. 

Paul fell under Mrs. Leivers's spell. Everything had a religious 
and intensified meaning when he was with her. His soul, hurt, 
highly developed, sought her as if for nourishment. Together 
they seemed to sift the vital fact from an experience. 

Miriam was her mother's daughter. In the sunshine of the 
afternoon mother and daughter went down the fields with 
him. They looked for nests. There was a jenny wren's in the 
hedge by the orchard. 

"I do want you to see this," said Mrs. Leivers. 

He crouched down and carefully put his finger through the 
thorns into the round door of the nest. 

"It's almost as if you were feeling inside the live body of the 
bird," he said, "it's so warm. They say a bird makes its nest 
round like a cup with pressing its breast on it. Then how did 
it make the ceiling round, I wonder?" 

The nest seemed to start into life for the two women. After 
that, Miriam came to see it every day. It seemed so close to 
her. Again, going down the hedgeside with the girl, he noticed 
the celandines, scalloped splashes of gold, on the side of the 

"I like them," he said, "when their petals go flat back with 
the sunshine. They seemed to be pressing themselves at the 

And then the celandines ever after drew her with a little 
spell. Anthropomorphic as she was, she stimulated him into 
appreciating things thus, and then they lived for her. She 
seemed to need things kindling in her imagination or in her 
soul before she felt she had them. And she was cut off from 
ordinary life by her religious intensity which made the world 
for her either a nunnery garden or a paradise, where sin and 
knowledge were not, or else an ugly, cruel thing. 

So it was in this atmosphere of subtle intimacy, this meeting 
in their common feeling for something in Nature, that their 
love started. 

Personally, he was a long time before he realized her. For 
ten months he had to stay at home after his illness. For a while 


he went to Skegness with his mother, and was perfectly happy. 
I5ut even from the seaside he wrote long letters to Mrs. Leivers 
about the shore and the sea. And he brought back his beloved 
sketches of the flat Lincoln coast, anxious for them to see. 
Almost they would interest the Leivers more than they 
interested his mother. It was not his art Mrs. Morel cared 
about; it was himself and his achievement. But Mrs. Leivers 
and her children were almost his disciples. They kindled him 
and made him glow to his work, whereas his mother's influence 
was to make him quietly determined, patient, dogged, un- 

He soon was friends with the boys, whose rudeness was only 
superficial. They had all, when they could trust themselves, a 
strange gentleness and lovableness. 

"Will you come with me on to the fallow?" asked Edgar, 
rather hesitatingly. 

Paul went joyfully, and spent the afternoon helping to hoe 
or to single turnips with his friend. He used to lie wdth the 
three brothers in the hay piled up in the barn and tell them 
about Nottingham and about Jordan's. In return, they taught 
him to milk, and let him do little jobs — chopping hay or pulp- 
ing turnips — ^just as much as he liked. At midsummer he 
worked all through hay-harvest with them, and then he loved 
them. The family was so cut off from the world actually. They 
seemed, somehow, like "les derniers fils d'une race epuisee". 
Though the lads were strong and healthy, yet they had all 
that over-sensitiveness and hanging-back which made them so 
lonely, yet also such close, delicate friends once their intimacy 
was won. Paul loved them dearly, and they him. 

Miriam came later. But he had come into her life before she 
made any mark on his. One dull afternoon, when the men 
were on the land and the rest at school, only Miriam and her 
mother at home, the girl said to him, after having hesitated for 
some time : 

"Have you seen the swing?" 

"No," he answered. "Where?" 

"In the cowshed," she replied. 

She always hesitated to offer or to show him anything. Men 
have such different standards of worth from women, and her 
dear things — the valuable things to her — her brothers had so 
often mocked or flouted. 

"Come on, then," he replied, jumping up. 


There were two cowsheds, one on either side of the barn. 
In the lower, darker shed there was standing for four cows. 
Hens flew scolding over the manger-wall as the youth and girl 
went forward for the great thick rope which hung from the 
beam in the darkness overhead, and was pushed back over a 
peg in the wall. 

"It's something like a rope!" he exclaimed appreciatively; 
and he sat down on it, anxious to try it. Then immediately he 

"Come on, then, and have first go," he said to the girl. 

"See," she answered, going into the barn, "we put some bags 
on the seat"; and she made the swing comfortable for him. 
That gave her pleasure. He held the rope. 

"Come on, then," he said to her. 

"No, I won't go first," she answered. 

She stood aside in her still, aloof fashion. 


"You go," she pleaded. 

Almost for the first time in her life she had the pleasure of 
giving up to a man, of spoiling him. Paul looked at her. 

"All right," he said, sitting down. "Mind out!" 

He set off with a spring, and in a moment was flying through 
the air, almost out of the door of the shed, the upper half of 
which was open, showing outside the drizzling rain, the filthy 
yard, the cattle standing disconsolate against the black cart- 
shed, and at the back of all the grey-green wall of the wood. 
She stood below in her crimson tam-o'-shanter and watched. 
He looked down at her, and she saw his blue eyes sparkling. 

"It's a treat of a swing," he said. 


He was swinging through the air, every bit of him swinging, 
like a bird that swoops for joy of movement. And he looked 
down at her. Her crimson cap hung over her dark curls, her 
beautiful warm face, so still in a kind of brooding, was lifted 
towards him. It was dark and rather cold in the shed. Suddenly 
a swallow came down from the high roof and darted out of 
the door. 

"I didn't know a bird was watching," he called. 

He swung negligently. She could feel him falling and lifting 
through the air, as if he were lying on some force. 

"Now I'll die," he said, in a detached, dreamy voice, as 
though he were the dying motion of the swing. She watched 


him, fascinated. Suddenly he put on the brake and jumped 

"I've had a long turn," he said. "But it's a treat of a swing — 
it's a real treat of a swing!" 

Miriam was amused that he took a swing so seriously and 
felt so warmly over it. 

"No; you go on," she said. 

"Why, don't you want one?" he asked, astonished. 

"Well, not much. I'll have just a little." 

She sat down, whilst he kept the bags in place for her. 

"It's so ripping!" he said, setting her in motion. "Keep your 
heels up, or they'll bang the manger wall." 

She felt the accuracy with which he caught her, exactly at 
the right moment, and the exactly proportionate strength of 
his thrust, and she was afraid. Down to her bowels went the 
hot wave of fear. She was in his hands. Again, firm and in- 
evitable came the thrust at the right moment. She gripped the 
rope, almost swooning. 

"Ha!" she laughed in fear. "No higher!" 

"But you're not a bit high," he remonstrated. 

"But no higher." 

He heard the fear in her voice, and desisted. Her heart 
melted in hot pain when the moment came for him to thrust 
her forward again. But he left her alone. She began to breathe. 

"Won't you really go any farther?" he asked. "Should I 
keep you there?" 

"No; let me go by myself." she answered. 

He moved aside and watched her. 

"Why, you're scarcely moving," he said. 

She laughed slightly with shame, and in a moment got down. 

"They say if you can swing you won't be sea-sick," he said, 
as he mounted again. "I don't believe I should ever be sea- 

Away he went. There was something fascinating to her in 
him. For the moment he was nothing but a piece of swinging 
stuff; not a particle of him that did not swing. She could never 
lose herself so, nor could her brothers. It roused a warmth in 
her. It were almost as if he were a flame that had lit a warmth 
in her whilst he swung in the middle air. 

And gradually the intimacy with the family concentrated 
for Paul on three persons — the mother, Edgar, and Miriam. To 
the mother he went for that sympathy and that appeal which 


seemed to draw him out. Edgar was his very close friend. And 
to Miriam he more or less condescended, because she seemed 
so humble. 

But the girl gradually sought him out. If he brought up his 
sketch-book, it was she who pondered longest over the last 
picture. Then she would look up at him. Suddenly, her dark 
eyes alight like water that shakes with a stream of gold in the 
dark, she would ask: 

"Why do I like this so?" 

Always something in his breast shrank from these close, 
intimate, dazzled looks of hers. 

"Why do you?" he asked. 

"I don't know. It seems so true." 

"It's because — it's because there is scarcely any shadow in 
it; it's more shimmery, as if I'd painted the shimmering pro- 
toplasm in the leaves and everywhere, and not the stiffness of 
the shape. That seems dead to me. Only this shimmeriness is 
the real living. The shape is a dead crust. The shimmer is in- 
side really." 

And she, with her little finger in her mouth, would ponder 
these sayings. They gave her a feeling of life again, and vivified 
things which had meant nothing to her. She managed to find 
some meaning in his struggling, abstract speeches. And they 
were the medium through which she came distinctly at her 
beloved objects. 

Another day she sat at sunset whilst he was painting some 
pine-trees which caught the red glare from the west. He had 
been quiet. 

"There you are!" he said suddenly. "I wanted that. Now, 
look at them and tell me, are they pine trunks or are they red 
coals, standing-up pieces of fire in that darkness? There's 
God's burning bush for you, that burned not away." 

Miriam looked, and was frightened. But the pine trunks 
were wonderful to her, and distinct. He packed his box and 
rose. Suddenly he looked at her. 

"Why are you always sad?" he asked her. 

"Sad!" she exclaimed, looking up at him with startled, 
wonderful brown eyes. 

"Yes," he replied. "You are always sad." 

"I am not — oh, not a bit!" she cried. 

"But even your joy is like a flame coming off of sadness," he 
persisted. "You're never jolly, or even just all right." 


"No," she pondered. "I wonder — why?" 

* 'Because you're not; because you're different inside, like a 
pine-tree, and then you flare up; but you're not just like an 
ordinary tree, with fidgety leaves and jolly " 

He got tangled up in his own speech; but she brooded on it, 
and he had a strange, roused sensation, as if his feelings were 
new. She got so near him. It was a strange stimulant. 

Then sometimes he hated her. Her youngest brother was 
only five. He was a frail lad, with immense brown eyes in his 
quaint fragile face — one of Reynolds's "Choir of Angels", with 
a touch of elf. Often Miriam kneeled to the child and drew 
him to her. 

"Eh, my Hubert!" she sang, in a voice heavy and surcharged 
with love. "Eh, my Hubert!" 

And, folding him in her arms, she swayed slightly from side 
to side with love, her face half lifted, her eyes half closed, her 
voice drenched with love. 

"Don't ! " said the child, uneasy — "don't, Miriam ! " 

"Yes; you love me, don't you?" she murmured deep in her 
throat, almost as if she were in a trance, and swaying also as if 
she were swooned in an ecstasy of love. 

"Don't!" repeated the child, a frown on his clear brow. 

"You love me, don't you?" she murmured. 

"What do you make such a fuss for?" cried Paul, all in 
suffering because of her extreme emotion. "Why can't you 
be ordinary with him?" 

She let the child go, and rose, and said nothing. Her intensity, 
which would leave no emotion on a normal plane, irritated 
the youth into a frenzy. And this fearful, naked contact of 
her on small occasions shocked him. He was used to his 
mother's reserve. And on such occasions he was thankful in 
his heart and soul that he had his mother, so sane and whole- 

All the life of Miriam's body was in her eyes, which were 
usually dark as a dark church, but could flame with light like 
a conflagration. Her face scarcely ever altered from its look 
of brooding. She might have been one of the women who 
went with Mary when Jesus was dead. Her body was not 
flexible and living. She walked with a swing, rather heavily, 
her head bowed forward, pondering. She was not clumsy, and 
yet none of her movements seemed quite the movement. Often, 
when wiping the dishes, she would stand in bewilderment and 


chagrin because she had pulled in two halves a cup or a 
tumbler. It was as if, in her fear and self-mistrust, she put 
too much strength into the eifort. There was no looseness or 
abandon about her. Everything was gripped stiff with intensity, 
and her effort, overcharged, closed in on itself. 

She rarely varied from her swinging, forward, intense walk. 
Occasionally she ran with Paul down the fields. Then her eyes 
blazed naked in a kind of ecstasy that frightened him. But she 
was physically afraid. If she were getting over a stile, she 
gripped his hands in a little hard anguish, and began to lose 
her presence of mind. And he could not persuade her to jump 
from even a small height. Her eyes dilated, became exposed 
and palpitating. 

"No!" she cried, half laughing in terror — "no!" 

"You shall!" he cried once, and, jerking her forward, he 
brought her falling from the fence. But her wild "Ah!" of 
pain, as if she were losing consciousness, cut him. She landed 
on her feet safely, and afterwards had courage in this respect. 

She was very much dissatisfied with her lot. 

"Don't you like being at home?" Paul asked her, surprised. 

"Who would?" she answered, low and intense. "What is 
it? I'm all day cleaning what the boys make just as bad in 
five minutes. I don't want to be at home." 

"What do you want, then?" 

"I want to do something. I want a chance like anybody else. 
Why should 1, because I'm a girl, be kept at home and not 
allowed to be anything? What chance have I?" 

"Chance of what?" 

"Of knowing anything — of learning, of doing anything. It's 
not fair, because I'm a woman." 

She seemed very bitter. Paul wondered. In his ov^oi home 
Annie was almost glad to be a girl. She had not so much 
responsibility; things were lighter for her. She never wanted 
to be other than a girl. But Miriam almost fiercely wished she 
were a man. And yet she hated men at the same time. 

"But it's as well to be a woman as a man," he said, frowning. 

"Ha! Is it? Men have everything." 

"I should think women ought to be as glad to be women as 
men are to be men," he answered. 

"No!" — she shook her head — "no! Everything the men 

"But what do you want?" he asked. 


"I want to learn. Why should it be that I know nothing?" 

"What! such as mathematics and French?" 

"Why shouldn't I know mathematics ? Yes ! " she cried, her 
eye expanding in a kind of defiance. 

"Well, you can learn as much as I know," he said. "I'll teach 
you, if you like." 

Her eyes dilated. She mistrusted him as teacher. 

"Would you?" he asked. 

Her head had dropped, and she was sucking her finger 

"Yes," she said hesitatingly. 

He used to tell his mother all these things. 

"I'm going to teach Miriam algebra," he said. 

"Well," replied Mrs. Morel, "I hope she'll get fat on it." 

When he went up to the farm on the Monday evening, it was 
drawing twilight. Miriam was just sweeping up the kitchen, 
and was kneeling at the hearth when he entered. Everyone 
was out but her. She looked round at him, flushed, her dark 
eyes shining, her fine hair falling about her face. 

"Hello!" she said, soft and musical. "I knew it was 


"I knew your step. Nobody treads so quick and firm." 

He sat down, sighing. 

"Ready to do some algebra?" he asked, drawing a little book 
from his pocket. 

"But " 

He could feel her backing away. 

"You said you wanted," he insisted. 

"To-night, though?" she faltered. 

"But 1 came on purpose. And if you want to learn it, you 
must begin." 

She took up her ashes in the dustpan and looked at him, half 
tremulously, laughing. 

"Yes, but to-night ! You see, I haven't thought of it." 

"Well, my goodness ! Take the ashes and come." 

He went and sat on the stone bench in the back-yard, where 
the big milk-cans were standing, tipped up, to air. The men 
were in the cowsheds. He could hear the little sing-song of 
the milk spurting into the pails. Presently she came, bringing 
some big greenish apples. 

"You know you like them," she said. 


He took a bite. 

"Sit down," he said, with his mouth full. 

She was short-sighted, and peered over his shoulder. It 
irritated him. He gave her the book quickly. 

"Here," he said. "It's only letters for figures. You put down 
'a' instead of '2' or '6'." 

They worked, he talking, she with her head down on the 
book. He was quick and hasty. She never answered. Occa- 
sionally, when he demanded of her, "Do you see?" she looked 
up at him, her eyes wide with the half-laugh that comes of 
fear. "Don't you?" he cried. 

He had been too fast. But she said nothing. He questioned 
her more, then got hot. It made his blood rouse to see her 
there, as it were, at his mercy, her mouth open, her eyes dilated 
with laughter that was afraid, apologetic, ashamed. Then Edgar 
came along with two buckets of milk. 

"Hello!" he said. "What are you doing?" 

"Algebra," replied Paul. 

"Algebra!" repeated Edgar curiously. Then he passed on 
with a laugh. Paul took a bite at his forgotten apple, looked 
at the miserable cabbages in the garden, pecked into lace by 
the fowls, and he wanted to pull them up. Then he glanced at 
Miriam. She was poring over the book, seemed absorbed in it, 
yet trembling lest she could not get at it. It made him cross. 
She was ruddy and beautiful. Yet her soul seemed to be 
intensely supplicating. The algebra-book she closed, shrinking, 
knowing he was angered; and at the same instant he grew 
gentle, seeing her hurt because she did not understand. 

But things came slowly to her. And when she held herself 
in a grip, seemed so utterly humble before the lesson, it made 
his blood rouse. He stormed at her, got ashamed, continued 
the lesson, and grew furious again, abusing her. She listened 
in silence. Occasionally, very rarely, she defended herself. Her 
liquid dark eyes blazed at him. 

"You don't give me time to learn it," she said. 

"All right," he answered, throwing the book on the table 
and lighting a cigarette. Then, after a while, he went back to 
her repentant. So the lessons went. He was always either in 
a rage or very gentle. 

"What do you tremble your soul before it for?" he cried. 
"You don't learn algebra with your blessed soul. Can't you 
look at it with your clear simple wits?" 


Often, when he went again into the kitchen, Mrs. Leivers 
would look at him reproachfully, saying : 

"Paul, don't be so hard on Miriam. She may not be quick, 
but I'm sure she tries." 

"I can't help it," he said rather pitiably. "I go off like it." 

"You don't mind me, Miriam, do you?" he asked of the girl 

"No," she reassured him in her beautiful deep tones — "no, I 
don't mind." 

"Don't mind me; it's my fault." 

But, in spite of himself, his blood began to boil with her. It 
was strange that no one else made him in such fury. He flared 
against her. Once he threw the pencil in her face. There was 
a silence. She turned her face slightly aside. 

"I didn't " he began, but got no farther, feeling weak in 

all his bones. She never reproached him or was angry with 
him. He was often cruelly ashamed. But still again his anger 
burst like a bubble surcharged; and still, when he saw her 
eager, silent, as it were, blind face, he felt he wanted to throw 
the pencil in it; and still, when he saw her hand trembling 
and her mouth parted with suffering, his heart was scalded 
with pain for her. And because of the intensity to which she 
roused him, he sought her. 

Then he often avoided her and went with Edgar. Miriam and 
her brother were naturally antagonistic. Edgar was a rationalist, 
who was curious, and had a sort of scientific interest in life. It 
was a great bitterness to Miriam to see herself deserted by Paul 
for Edgar, who seemed so much lower. But the youth was very 
happy with her elder brother. The two men spent afternoons 
together on the land or in the loft doing carpentry, when it 
rained. And they talked together, or Paul taught Edgar the 
songs he himself had learned from Annie at the piano. And 
often all the men, Mr. Leivers as well, had bitter debates on 
the nationalizing of the land and similar problems. Paul had 
already heard his mother's views, and as these were as yet his 
own, he argued for her. Miriam attended and took part, but 
was all the time waiting until it should be over and a personal 
communication might begin. 

"After all," she said within herself, "if the land were 
nationalized, Edgar and Paul and I would be just the same." 
So she waited for the youth to come back to her. 

He was studying for his painting. He loved to sit at home. 


alone with his mother, at night, working and working. She 
sewed or read. Then, looking up from his task, he would rest 
his eyes for a moment on her face, that was bright with living 
warmth, and he returned gladly to his work. 

"I can do my best things when you sit there in your rocking- 
chair, mother," he said. 

"I'm sure!" she exclaimed, sniffing with mock scepticism. 
But she felt it was so, and her heart quivered with brightness. 
For many hours she sat still, slightly conscious of him labour- 
ing away, whilst she worked or read her book. And he, with all 
his soul's intensity directing his pencil, could feel her warmth 
inside him like strength. They were both very happy so, and 
both unconscious of it. These times, that meant so much, and 
which were real living, they almost ignored. 

He was conscious only when stimulated. A sketch finished, 
he always wanted to take it to Miriam. Then he was stimulated 
into knowledge of the work he had produced unconsciously. In 
contact with Miriam he gained insight; his vision went deeper. 
From his mother he drew the life-warmth, the strength to pro- 
duce; Miriam urged this warmth into intensity like a white 

When he returned to the factory the conditions of work 
were better. He had Wednesday afternoon off to go to the 
Art School — Miss Jordan's provision — returning in the evening. 
Then the factory closed at six instead of eight on Thursday and 
Friday evenings. 

One evening in the summer Miriam and he went over the 
fields by Herod's Farm on their way from the library home. So 
it was only three miles to Willey Farm. There was a yellow 
glow over the mowing-grass, and the sorrel-heads burned 
crimson. Gradually, as they walked along the high land, the 
gold in the west sank down to red, the red to crimson, and 
then the chill blue crept up against the glow. 

They came out upon the high road to Alfreton, which ran 
white between the darkening fields. There Paul hesitated. It 
was two miles home for him, one mile forward for Miriam. 
They both looked up the road that ran in shadow right under 
the glow of the north-west sky. On the crest of the hill, Selby, 
with its stark houses and the up-pricked headstocks of the pit, 
stood in black silhouette small against the sky. 

He looked at his watch. 

"Nine o'clock!" he said. 


The pair stood, loth to part, hugging their books. 

"The wood is so lovely now," she said. "1 wanted you to 
see it." 

He followed her slowly across the road to the white gate. 

"They grumble so if I'm late," he said. 

"But you're not doing anything wrong," she answered 

He followed her across the nibbled pasture in the dusk. 
There was a coolness in the wood, a scent of leaves, of honey- 
suckle, and a twilight. The two walked in silence. Night came 
wonderfully there, among the throng of dark tree-trunks. He 
looked round, expectant. 

She wanted to show him a certain wild-rose bush she had 
discovered. She knew it was wonderful. And yet, till he had 
seen it, she felt it had not come into her soul. Only he could 
make it her own, immortal. She was dissatisfied. 

Dew was already on the paths. In the old oak-wood a mist 
was rising, and he hesitated, wondering whether one white- 
ness were a strand of fog or only campion-flowers pallid in a 

By the time they came to the pine-trees Miriam was getting 
very eager and very tense. Her bush might be gone. She might 
not be able to find it; and she wanted it so much. Almost 
passionately she wanted to be with him when he stood before 
the flowers. They were going to have a communion together — 
something that thrilled her, something holy. He was walking 
beside her in silence. They were very near to each other. She 
trembled, and he listened, vaguely anxious. 

Coming to the edge of the wood, they saw the sky in front, 
like mother-of-pearl, and the earth growing dark. Somewhere 
on the outermost branches of the pine-wood the honeysuckle 
was streaming scent. 

"Where?" he asked. 

"Down the middle path," she murmured, quivering. 

When they turned the corner of the path she stood still. In 
the wide walk between the pines, gazing rather frightened, she 
could distinguish nothing for some moments; the greying light 
robbed things of their colour. Then she saw her bush. 

"Ah!" she cried, hastening forward. 

It was very still. The tree was tall and straggling. It had 
thrown its briers over a hawthorn-bush, and its long streamers 
trailed thick, right down to the grass, splashing the darkness 


everywhere with great spilt stars, pure white. In bosses of 
ivory and in large splashed stars the roses gleamed on the dark- 
ness of foliage and stems and grass. Paul and Miriam stood 
close together, silent, and watched. Point after point the steady 
roses shone out to them, seeming to kindle something in their 
souls. The dusk came like smoke around, and still did not put 
out the roses. 

Paul looked into Miriam's eyes. She was pale and expectant 
with wonder, her lips were parted, and her dark eyes lay open 
to him. His look seemed to travel down into her. Her soul 
quivered. It was the communion she wanted. He turned aside, 
as if pained. He turned to the bush. 

'They seem as if they walk like butterflies, and shake them- 
selves," he said. 

She looked at her roses. They were white, some incurved 
and holy, others expanded in an ecstasy. The tree was dark as 
a shadow. She lifted her hand impulsively to the flowers; she 
went forward and touched them in worship. 

"Let us go," he said. 

There was a cool scent of ivory roses — a white, virgin scent. 
Something made him feel anxious and imprisoned. The two 
walked in silence. 

"Till Sunday," he said quietly, and left her; and she walked 
home slowly, feeling her soul satisfied with the holiness of the 
night. He stumbled down the path. And as soon as he was out 
of the wood, in the free open meadow, where he could breathe, 
he started to run as fast as he could. It was like a delicious 
delirium in his veins. 

Always when he went with Miriam, and it grew rather late, 
he knew his mother was fretting and getting angry about him — 
why, he could not understand. As he went into the house, 
flinging down his cap, his mother looked up at the clock. She 
had been sitting thinking, because a chill to her eyes prevented 
her reading. She could feel Paul being drawn away by this girl. 
And she did not care for Miriam. "She is one of those who will 
want to suck a man's soul out till he has none of his own left," 
she said to herself; "and he is just such a gaby as to let him- 
self be absorbed. She will never let him become a man; she 
never will." So, while he was away with Miriam, Mrs. Morel 
grew more and more worked up. 

She glanced at the clock and said, coldly and rather tired : 

"You have been far enough to-night." 


His soul, warm and exposed from contact with the girl, 

"You must have been right home with her," his mother 

He would not answer. Mrs. Morel, looking at him quickly, 
saw his hair was damp on his forehead with haste, saw him 
frowning in his heavy fashion, resentfully. 

"She must be wonderfully fascinating, that you can't get 
away from her, but must go trailing eight miles at this time 
of night." 

He was hurt between the past glamour with Miriam and the 
knowledge that his mother fretted. He had meant not to say 
anything, to refuse to answer. But he could not harden his 
heart to ignore his mother. 

"1 do like to talk to her," he answered irritably. 

"Is there nobody else to talk to?" 

"You wouldn't say anything if I went with Edgar." 

"You know 1 should. You know, whoever you went with, 1 
should say it was too far for you to go trailing, late at night, 
when you've been to Nottingham. Besides" — her voice sud- 
denly flashed into anger and contempt — "it is disgusting — bits 
of lads and girls courting." 

"It is not courting," he cried. 

"1 don't know what else you call it." 

"It's not! Do you think we spoon and do? We only talk." 

^Till goodness knows what time and distance," was the 
sarcastic rejoinder. 

Paul snapped at the laces of his boots angrily. 

"What are you so mad about?" he asked. "Because you 
don't like her." 

"I don't say 1 don't like her. But 1 don't hold with children 
keeping company, and never did." 

"But you don't mind our Annie going out with Jim Inger." 

"They've more sense than you two." 


"Our Annie's not one o f the deep sort." 

He^failed to see tne llltlcllUng oi this remark. But his mother 
looked tired. She was never so strong after William's death; 
and her eyes hurt her. 

"Well," he said, "it's so pretty in the country. Mr. Sleath 
asked about you. He said he'd missed you. Are you a bit 


"I ought to have been in bed a long time ago," she replied. 

"Why, mother, you know you wouldn't have gone before 
quarter-past ten." 

"Oh, yes, I should!" 

"Oh, little woman, you'd say anything now you're disagree- 
able with me, wouldn't you?" 

He kissed her forehead that he knew so well : the deep marks 
between the brows, the rising of the fine hair, greying now, and 
the proud setting of the temples. His hand lingered on her 
shoulder after his kiss. Then he went slowly to bed. He had 
forgotten Miriam; he only saw how his mother's hair was lifted 
back from her warm, broad brow. And somehow, she was hurt. 

Then the next time he saw Miriam he said to her : 

"Don't let me be late to-night — not later than ten o'clock. 
My mother gets so upset." 

Miriam dropped her head, brooding. 

"Why does she get upset?" she asked. 

"Because she says 1 oughtn't to be out late when I have to 
get up early." 

"Very well!" said Miriam, rather quietly, with just a touch 
of a sneer. 

He resented that. And he was usually late again. 

That there was any love growing between him and Miriam 
neither of them would have acknowledged. He thought he was 
too sane for such sentimentality, and she thought herself too 
lofty. They both were late in coming to maturity, and 
psychical ripeness was much behind even the physical. Miriam 
was exceedingly sensitive, as her mother had always been. The 
slightest grossness made her recoil almost in anguish. Her 
brothers were brutal, but never coarse in speech. The men 
did all the discussing of farm matters outside. But, perhaps, 
because of the continual business of birth and of begetting 
which goes on upon every farm, Miriam was the more hyper- 
sensitive to the matter, and her blood was chastened almost to 
disgust of the faintest suggestion of such intercourse. Paul took 
his pitch from her, and their intimacy went on in an utterly 
blanched and chaste fashion. It could never be mentioned that 
the mare was in foal. 

When he was nineteen, he was earning only twenty shillings 
a week, but he was happy. His painting went well, and life 
went well enough. On the Good Friday he organised a walk to 
the Hemlock Stone. There were three lads of his own age, then 


Annie and Arthur, Miriam and Geoffrey. Arthur, apprenticed 
as an electrician in Nottingham, was home for the hoUday. 
Morel, as usual, was up early, whistling and sawing in the yard. 
At seven o'clock the family heard him buy threepenny worth 
of hot-cross buns; he talked with gusto to the little girl who 
brought them, calling her "my darling". He turned away several 
boys who came with more buns, telling them they had been 
"kested" by a little lass. Then Mrs. Morel got up, and the family 
straggled down. It was an immense luxury to everybody, this 
lying in bed just beyond the ordinary time on a weekday. And 
Paul and Arthur read before breakfast, and had the meal un- 
washed, sitting in their shirt-sleeves. This was another holiday 
luxury. The room was warm. Everything felt free of care and 
anxiety. There was a sense of plenty in the house. 

While the boys were reading, Mrs. Morel went into the 
garden. They were now in another house, an old one, near the 
Scargill Street home, which had been left soon after William 
had died. Directly came an excited cry from the garden : 

"Paul! Paul! come and look ! " 

It was his mother's voice. He threw down his book and went 
out. There was a long garden that ran to a field. It was a grey, 
cold day, with a sharp wind blowing out of Derbyshire. Two 
fields away Bestwood began, with a jumble of roofs and red 
house-ends, out of which rose the church tower and the spire 
of the Congregational Chapel. And beyond went woods and 
hills, right away to the pale grey heights of the Pennine 

Paul looked down the garden for his mother. Her head 
appeared among the young currant-bushes. 

"Come here!" she cried. 

"What for?" he answered. 

"Come and see." 

She had been looking at the buds on the currant trees. Paul 
went up. 

"To think," she said, "that here I might never have seen 

Her son went to her side. Under the fence, in a little bed, 
was a ravel of poor grassy leaves, such as come from very 
immature bulbs, and three scyllas in bloom. Mrs. Morel pointed 
to the deep blue flowers. 

"Now, just see those ! " she exclaimed. "I was looking at the 
currant bushes, when, thinks I to myself, 'There's something 


very blue; is it a bit of sugar-bag?' and there, behold you! 
Sugar-bag! Three glories of the snow, and such beauties! But 
where on earth did they come from?" 

"I don't know," said Paul. 

"Well, that's a marvel, now! I thought I knew every weed 
and blade in this garden. But haven't they done well ? You see, 
that gooseberry-bush just shelters them. Not nipped, not 

He crouched down and turned up the bells of the little blue 

"They're a glorious colour!" he said. 

"Aren't they!" she cried. "1 guess they come from Switzer- 
land, where they say they have such lovely things. Fancy them 
against the snow I But where have they come from ? They can't 
have blown here, can they?" 

Then he remembered having set here a lot of little trash of 
bulbs to mature. 

"And you never told me," she said. 

"No! I thought I'd leave it till they might flower." 

"And now, you see! I might have missed them. And I've 
never had a glory of the snow in my garden in my life." 

She was full of excitement and elation. The garden was an 
endless joy to her. Paul was thankful for her sake at last to be 
in a house with a long garden that went down to a field. Every 
morning after breakfast she went out and was happy pottering 
about in it. And it was true, she knew every weed and 

Everybody turned up for the walk. Food was packed, and 
they set off, a merry, delighted party. They hung over the wall 
of the mill-race, dropped paper in the water on one side of the 
tunnel and watched it shoot out on the other. They stood on 
the footbridge over Boathouse Station and looked at the metals 
gleaming coldly. 

"You should see the Flying Scotsman come through at half- 
past six!" said Leonard, whose father was a signalman. "Lad, 
but she doesn't half buzz!" and the little party looked up the 
lines one way, to London, and the other way, to Scotland, and 
they felt the touch of these two magical places. 

In Ilkeston the colliers were waiting in gangs for the public- 
houses to open. It was a town of idleness and lounging. At 
Stanton Gate the iron foundry blazed. Over everything there 
were great discussions. At Trowell they crossed again from 


Derbyshire into Nottinghamshire. They came to the Hemlock 
Stone at dinner-time. Its field was crowded with folk from 
Nottingham and Ilkeston. 

They had expected a venerable and dignified monument. 
They found a little, gnarled, twisted stump of rock, something 
like a decayed mushroom, standing out pathetically on the side 
of a field. Leonard and Dick immediately proceeded to carve 
their initials, "L. W." and "R. P.", in the old red sandstone; but 
Paul desisted, because he had read in the newspaper satirical 
remarks about initial-carvers, who could find no other road to 
immortality. Then all the lads climbed to the top of the rock 
to look round. 

Everywhere in the field below, factory girls and lads were 
eating lunch or sporting about. Beyond was the garden of an 
old manor. It had yew-hedges and thick clumps and borders of 
yellow crocuses round the lawn. 

"See," said Paul to Miriam, "what a quiet garden ! " 

She saw the dark yews and the golden crocuses, then she 
looked gratefully. He had not seemed to belong to her among 
all these others; he was different then — not her Paul, who under- 
stood the slighest quiver of her innermost soul, but something 
else, speaking another language than hers. How it hurt her, and 
deadened her very perceptions. Only when he came right back 
to her, leaving his other, his lesser self, as she thought, would 
she feel alive again. And now he asked her to look at this 
garden, wanting the contact with her again. Impatient of the 
set in the field, she turned to the quiet lawn, surrounded by 
sheaves of shut-up crocuses. A feeling of stillness, almost of 
ecstasy, came over her. It felt almost as if she were alone 
with him in this garden. 

Then he left her again and joined the others. Soon they 
started home. Miriam loitered behind, alone. She did not fit in 
with the others; she could very rarely get into human relations 
with anyone: so her friend, her companion, her lover, was 
Nature. She saw the sun declining wanly. In the dusky, cold 
hedgerows were some red leaves. She lingered to gather them, 
tenderly, passionately. The love in her finger-tips caressed 
the leaves; the passion in her heart came to a glow upon the 

Suddenly she realised she was alone in a strange road, and 
she hurried forward. Turning a corner in the lane, she came 
upon Paul, who stood bent over something, his mind fixed on 


it, working away steadily, patiently, a little hopelessly. She 
hesitated in her approach, to watch. 

He remained concentrated in the middle of the road. Beyond, 
one rift of rich gold in that colourless grey evening seemed to 
make him stand out in dark relief. She saw him, slender and 
firm, as if the setting sun had given him to her. A deep pain 
took hold of her, and she knew she must love him. And she 
had discovered him, discovered in him a rare potentiality, dis- 
covered his loneliness. Quivering as at some "annunciation", 
she went slowly forward. 

At last he looked up. 

"Why," he exclaimed gratefully, "have you waited for me!" 

She saw a deep shadow in his eyes. 

"What is it?" she asked. 

"The spring broken here;" and he showed her where his 
umbrella was injured. 

Instantly, with some shame, she knew he had not done the 
damage himself, but that Geoffrey was responsible. 

"It is only an old umbrella, isn't it?" she asked. 

She wondered why he, who did not usually trouble over 
trifles, made such a mountain of this molehill. 

"But it was William's an' my mother can't help but know," 
he said quietly, still patiently working at the umbrella. 

The words went through Miriam like a blade. This, then, was 
the confirmation of her vision of him! She looked at him. But 
there was about him a certain reserve, and she dared not com- 
fort him, not even speak softly to him. 

"Come on," he said. "I can't do it;" and they went in silence 
along the road. 

That same evening they were walking along under the trees 
by Nether Green. He was talking to her fretfully, seemed to be 
struggling to convince himself. 

"You know," he said, with an effort, "if one person loves, the 
other does." 

"Ah ! " she answered. "Like mother said to me when I was 
little, 'Love begets love.' " 

"Yes, something like that, I think it must be." 

"I hope so, because, if it were not, love might be a very 
terrible thing," she said. 

"Yes, but it is — at least with most people," he answered. 

And Miriam, thinking he had assured himself, felt strong in 
herself. She always regarded that sudden coming upon him 


in the lane as a revelation. And this conversation remained 
graven in her mind as one of the letters of the lav^. 

Now she stood with him and for him. When, about this 
time, he outraged the family feeling at Willey Farm by some 
overbearing insult, she stuck to him, and believed he was right. 
And at this time she dreamed dreams of him, vivid, unfor- 
gettable. These dreams came again later on, developed to a 
more subtle psychological stage. 

On the Easter Monday the same party took an excursion to 
Wingfield Manor. It was great excitement to Miriam to catch a 
train at Sethley Bridge, amid all the bustle of the Bank Holiday 
crowd. They left the train at Alfreton. Paul was interested in 
the street and in the colliers with their dogs. Here was a new 
race of miners. Miriam did not live till they came to the church. 
They were all rather timid of entering, with their bags of food, 
for fear of being turned out. Leonard, a comic, thin fellow, 
went first; Paul, who would have died rather than be sent back, 
went last. The place was decorated for Easter. In the font 
hundreds of white narcissi seemed to be growing. The air was 
dim and coloured from the windows and thrilled with a subtle 
scent of lilies and narcissi. In that atmosphere Miriam's soul 
came into a glow. Paul was afraid of the things he mustn't do; 
and he was sensitive to the feel of the place. Miriam turned to 
him. He answered. They were together. He would not go 
beyond the Communion-rail She loved him for that. Her 
soul expanded into prayer beside him. He felt the strange 
fascination of shadowy religious places. All his latent mysticism 
quivered into life. She was drawn to him. He was a prayer 
along with her. 

Miriam very rarely talked to the other lads. They at once 
became awkward in conversation with her. So usually she was 

It was past midday when they climbed the steep path to the 
manor. AH things shone softly in the sun, which was wonder- 
fully warm and enlivening. Celandines and violets were out. 
Everybody was tip-top full with happiness. The glitter of the 
ivy, the soft, atmospheric grey of the castle walls, the gentle- 
ness of everything near the ruin, was perfect. 

The manor is of hard, pale grey stone, and the other walls are 
blank and calm. The young folk were in raptures. They went 
in trepidation, almost afraid that the delight of exploring this 
ruin might be denied them. In the first courtyard, within the 


high broken walls, were farm-carts, with their shafts lying idle 
on the ground, the tyres of the wheels brilliant with gold-red 
rust. It was very still. 

All eagerly paid their sixpences, and went timidly through 
che fine clean arch of the inner courtyard. They were shy. Here 
on the pavement, where the hall had been, an old thorn tree 
was budding. All kinds of strange openings and broken rooms 
were in the shadow around them. 

After lunch they set off once more to explore the ruin. This 
time the girls went with the boys, who could act as guides and 
expositors. There was one tall tower in a corner, rather totter- 
ing, where they say Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned. 

"Think of the Queen going up here!" said Miriam in a low 
voice, as she climbed the hollow stairs. 

"If she could get up," said Paul, "for she had rheumatism like 
anything. I reckon they treated her rottenly." 

"You don't think she deserved it?" asked Miriam. 

"No, I don't. She was only lively." 

They continued to mount the winding staircase. A high 
wind, blowing through the loopholes, went rushing up the 
shaft, and filled the girl's skirts like a balloon, so that she was 
ashamed, until he took the hem of her dress and held it down 
for her. He did it perfectly simply, as he would have picked up 
her glove. She remembered this always. 

Round the broken top of the tower the ivy bushed out, old 
and handsome. Also, there were a few chill gillivers, in pale cold 
bud. Miriam wanted to lean over for some ivy, but he would 
not let her. Instead, she had to wait behind him, and take from 
him each spray as he gathered it and held it to her, each one 
separately, in the purest manner of chivalry. The tower seemed 
to rock in the wind. They looked over miles and miles of 
wooded country, and country with gleams of pasture. 

The crypt underneath the manor was beautiful, and in 
perfect preservation. Paul made a drawing: Miriam stayed 
with him. She was thinking of Mary Queen of Scots looking 
with her strained, hopeless eyes, that could not understand 
misery, over the hills whence no help came, or sitting in this 
crypt, being told of a God as cold as the place she sat in. 

They set off again gaily, looking round on their beloved 
manor that stood so clean and big on its hill. 

"Supposing you could have that farm," said Paul to Miriam. 



"Wouldn't it be lovely to come and see you ! " 

They were now in the bare country of stone walls, which he 
loved, and which, though only ten miles from home, seemed so 
foreign to Miriam. The party was straggling. As they were 
crossing a large meadow that sloped away from the sun, along 
a path embedded with innumerable tiny glittering points, Paul, 
walking alongside, laced his fingers in the strings of the bag 
Miriam was carrying, and instantly she felt Annie behind, 
watchful and jealous. But the meadow was bathed in a glory 
of sunshine, and the path was jewelled, and it was seldom that 
he gave her any sign. She held her fingers very still among the 
strings of the bag, his fingers touching; and the place was 
golden as a \^ision. 

At last they came into the straggling grey village of Crich, 
that lies high. Beyond the village was the famous Crich Stand 
that Paul could see from the garden at home. The party pushed 
on. Great expanse of country spread around and below. The 
lads were eager to get to the top of the hill. It was capped by 
a round knoll, half of which was by now cut away, and on the 
top of which stood an ancient monument, sturdy and squat, for 
signalling in old days far down into the level lands of Notting- 
hamshire and Leicestershire. 

It was blovdng so hard, high up there in the exposed place, 
that the only way to be safe was to stand nailed by the wind to 
the wall of the tower. At their feet fell the precipice where the 
limestone was quarried away. Below was a jumble of hills and 
tiny villages — Matlock, Ambergate, Stoney Middleton. The lads 
were eager to spy out the church of Bestwood, far away among 
the rather crowded country on the left. They were disgusted 
that it seemed to stand on a plain. They saw the hills of Derby- 
shire fall into the monotony of the Midlands that swept away 

Miriam was somewhat scared by the wind, but the lads 
enjoyed it. They went on, miles and miles, to Whatstandwell. 
All the food was eaten, everybody was hungry, and there was 
very little money to get home with. But they managed to pro- 
cure a loaf and a currant-loaf, which they hacked to pieces with 
shut-knives, and ate sitting on the wall near the bridge, watch- 
ing the bright Derwent rushing by, and the brakes from Matlock 
pulling up at the inn. 

Paul was now pale with weariness. He had been responsible 
for the party all day, and now he was done. Miriam under- 


Stood, and kept dose to him, and he left himself in her hands. 

They had an hour to wait at Ambergate Station. Trains 
came, crowded with excursionists returning to Manchester, 
Birmingham, and London. 

"We might be going there — folk easily might think we're 
going that far," said Paul. 

They got back rather late. Miriam, walking home with 
Geoffrey, watched the moon rise big and red and misty. She 
felt something was fulfilled in her. 

She had an elder sister, Agatha, who was a school-teacher. 
Between the two girls was a feud. Miriam considered Agatha 
worldly. And she wanted herself to be a school-teacher. 

One Saturday afternoon Agatha and Miriam were upstairs 
dressing. Their bedroom was over the stable. It was a low 
room, not very large, and bare. Miriam had nailed on the wall 
a reproduction of Veronese's "St. Catherine". She loved the 
woman who sat in the window, dreaming. Her own windows 
were too small to sit in. But the front one was dripped over 
with honeysuckle and Virginia creeper, and looked upon the 
tree-tops of the oak-wood across the yard, while the little back 
window, no bigger than a handkerchief, was a loophole to 
the east, to the dawn beating up against the beloved round 

The two sisters did not talk much to each other. Agatha, 
who was fair and small and determined, had rebelled against 
the home atmosphere, against the doctrine of "the other 
cheek". She was out in the world now, in a fair way to be 
independent. And she insisted on worldly values, on appear- 
ance, on manners, on position, which Miriam would fain have 

Both girls liked to be upstairs, out of the way, when Paul 
came. They preferred to come running down, open the stair- 
foot door, and see him watching, expectant of them. Miriam 
stood painfully pulling over her head a rosary he had given 
her. It caught in the fine mesh of her hair. But at last she had 
it on, and the red-brown wooden beads looked well against her 
cool brown neck. She was a well-developed girl, and very 
handsome. But in the little looking-glass nailed against the 
whitewashed wall she could only see a fragment of herself at 
a time. Agatha had bought a little mirror of her own, which 
she propped up to suit herself. Miriam was near the vdndow. 
Suddenly she heard the well-known click of the chain, and she 


saw Paul fling open the gate, push his bicycle into the yard. 
She saw him look at the house, and she shrank away. He 
walked in a nonchalant fashion, and his bicycle went with him 
as if it were a live thing. 

"Paul's come!" she exclaimed. 

"Aren't you glad?" said Agatha cuttingly. 

Miriam stood still in amazement and bewilderment. 

"Well, aren't you?" she asked. 

"Yes, but I'm not going to let him see it, and think I wanted 

Miriam was startled. She heard him putting his bicycle in 
the stable underneath, and talking to Jimmy, who had been a 
pit-horse, and who was seedy. 

"Well, Jimmy my lad, how are ter? Nobbut sick an' sadly, 
like ? Why, then, it's a shame, my owd lad." 

She heard the rope run through the hole as the horse lifted 
its head from the lad's caress. How she loved to listen when he 
thought only the horse could hear. But there was a serpent in 
her Eden. She searched earnestly in herself to see if she wanted 
Paul Morel. She felt there would be some disgrace in it. Full 
of twisted feeling, she was afraid she did want him. She stood 
self-convicted. Then came an agony of new shame. She shrank 
within herself in a coil of torture. Did she want Paul Morel, 
and did he know she wanted him ? What a subtle infamy upon 
her. She felt as if her whole soul coiled into knots of shame. 

Agatha was dressed first, and ran downstairs. Miriam heard 
her greet the lad gaily, knew exactly how brilliant her grey 
eyes became with that tone. She herself would have felt it 
bold to have greeted him in such wise. Yet there she stood 
under the self-accusation of wanting him, tied to that stake of 
torture. In bitter perplexity she kneeled down and prayed : 

"O Lord, let me not love Paul Morel. Keep me from loving 
him, if I ought not to love him." 

Something anomalous in the prayer arrested her. She lifted 
her head and pondered. How could it be wrong to love him? 
Love was God's gift. And yet it caused her shame. That was 
because of him, Paul Morel. But, then, it was not his affair, it 
was her own, between herself and God. She was to be a sacri- 
fice. But it was God's sacrifice, not Paul Morel's or her own. 
After a few minutes she hid her face in the pillow again, and 

"But, Lord, if it is Thy will that 1 should love him, make 


me love him — as Christ would, who died for the souls of men. 
Make me love him splendidly, because he is Thy son." 

She remained kneeling for some time, quite still, and deeply 
moved, her black hair against the red squares and the lavender- 
sprigged squares of the patchwork quilt. Prayer was almost 
essential to her. Then she fell into that rapture of self-sacrifice, 
identifying herself with a God who was sacrificed, which gives 
to so many human souls their deepest bliss. 

When she went downstairs Paul was lying back in an arm- 
chair, holding forth with much vehemence to Agatha, who was 
scorning a little painting he had brought to show her. Miriam 
glanced at the two, and avoided their levity. She went into 
the parlour to be alone. 

It was tea-time before she was able to speak to Paul, and 
then her manner was so distant he thought he had offended 

Miriam discontinued her practice of going each Thursday 
evening to the library in Bestwood. After calling for Paul 
regularly during the whole spring, a number of trifling incidents 
and tiny insults from his family awakened her to their attitude 
towards her, and she decided to go no more. So she announced 
to Paul one evening she would not call at his house again for 
him on Thursday nights. 

"Why?" he asked, very short. 

"Nothing. Only I'd rather not." 

"Very well." 

"But," she faltered, "if you'd care to meet me, we could 
still go together." 

"Meet you where?" 

"Somewhere — where you like." 

"1 shan't meet you anywhere. 1 don't see why you shouldn't 
keep calling for me. But if you won't, I don't want to meet 

So the Thursday evenings which had been so precious to her, 
and to him, were dropped. He worked instead. Mrs. Morel 
sniffed with satisfaction at this arrangement. 

He would not have it that they were lovers. The intimacy 
between them had been kept so abstract, such a matter of the 
soul, all thought and weary struggle into consciousness, that he 
saw it only as a platonic friendship. He stoutly denied there 
was anything else between them. Miriam was silent, or else 
she very quietly agreed. He was a fool who did not know what 


was happening to himself. By tacit agreement they ignored 
the remarks and insinuations of their acquaintances. 

"We aren't lovers, we are friends/' he said to her. "We 
know it. Let them talk. What does it matter what they say." 

Sometimes, as they were walking together, she slipped her 
arm timidly into his. But he always resented it, and she knew 
it. It caused a violent conflict in him. With Miriam he was 
always on the high plane of abstraction, when his natural fire 
of love was transmitted into the fine stream of thought. She 
would have it so. If he were jolly and, as she put it, flippant, 
she waited till he came back to her, till the change had taken 
place in him again, and he was wrestling with his own soul, 
frowning, passionate in his desire for understanding. And in 
this passion for understanding her soul lay close to his; she 
had him all to herself. But he must be made abstract first. 

Then, if she put her arm in his, it caused him almost torture. 
His consciousness seemed to split. The place where she was 
touching him ran hot with friction. He was one internecine 
battle, and he became cruel to her because of it. 

One evening in midsummer Miriam called at the house, warm 
from climbing. Paul was alone in the kitchen; his mother could 
be heard moving about upstairs. 

"Come and look at the sweet-peas," he said to the girl. 

They went into the garden. The sky behind the townlet and 
the church was orange-red; the flower-garden was flooded with 
a strange warm light that lifted every leaf into significance. 
Paul passed along a fine row of sweet-peas, gathering a blossom 
here and there, all cream and pale blue. Miriam followed, 
breathing the fragrance. To her, flowers appealed with such 
strength she felt she must make them part of herself. When 
she bent and breathed a flower, it was as if she and the flower 
were loving each other, Paul hated her for it. There seemed 
a sort of exposure about the action, something too intimate. 

When he had got a fair bunch, they returned to the house. 
He listened for a moment to his mother's quiet movement up- 
stairs, then he said : 

"Come here, and let me pin them in for you." He arranged 
them two or three at a time in the bosom of her dress, step- 
ping back now and then to see the effect. "You know," he said, 
taking the pin out of his mouth, "a woman ought always to 
arrange her flowers before her glass." 

Miriam laughed. She thought flowers ought to be pinned in 


one's dress without any care. That Paul should take pains to 
fix her flowers for her was his whim. 

He was rather offended at her laughter. 

"Some women do — those who look decent," he said. 

Miriam laughed again, but mirthlessly, to hear him thus mix 
her up with women in a general way. From most men she 
would have ignored it. But from him it hurt her. 

He had nearly finished arranging the flowers when he heard 
his mother's footstep on the stairs. Hurriedly he pushed in the 
last pin and turned away. 

"Don't let mater know," he said. 

Miriam picked up her books and stood in the doorway look- 
ing with chagrin at the beautiful sunset. She would call for 
Paul no more, she said. 

"Good-evening, Mrs. Morel," she said, in a deferential way. 
She sounded as if she felt she had no right to be there. 

"Oh, is it you, Miriam?" replied Mrs. Morel coolly. 

But Paul insisted on everybody's accepting his friendship 
with the girl, and Mrs. Morel was too wise to have any open 

It was not till he was twenty years old that the family could 
ever afford to go away for a holiday. Mrs. Morel had never 
been away for a holiday, except to see her sister, since she had 
been married. Now at last Paul had saved enough money, and 
they were all going. There was to be a party : some of Annie's 
friends, one friend of Paul's, a young man in the same office 
where William had previously been, and Miriam. 

It was great excitement writing for rooms. Paul and his 
mother debated it endlessly between them. They wanted a 
furnished cottage for two weeks. She thought one week would 
be enough, but he insisted on two. 

At last they got an answer from Mablethorpe, a cottage such 
as they wished for thirty shillings a week. There was immense 
jubilation. Paul was wild with joy for his mother's sake. She 
would have a real holiday now. He and she sat at evening 
picturing what it would be like. Annie came in, and Leonard, 
and Alice, and Kitty. There was wild rejoicing and anticipa- 
tion. Paul told Miriam. She seemed to brood with joy over it. 
But the Morel's house rang with excitement. 

They were to go on Saturday morning by the seven train. 
Paul suggested that Miriam should sleep at his house, because it 
was so far for her to walk. She came down for supper. Every- 


body was so excited that even Miriam was accepted with 
warmth. But almost as soon as she entered the feeling in the 
family became close and tight. He had discovered a poem by 
Jean Ingelow which mentioned Mablethorpe, and so he must 
read it to Miriam. He would never have got so far in the direc- 
tion of sentimentality as to read poetry to his own family. 
But now they condescended to listen. Miriam sat on the sofa 
absorbed in him. She always seemed absorbed in him, and by 
him, when he was present. Mrs. Morel sat jealously in her 
own chair. She was going to hear also. And even Annie and 
the father attended. Morel with his head cocked on one side, 
like somebody listening to a sermon and feeling conscious of 
the fact. Paul ducked his head over the book. He had got 
now all the audience he cared for. And Mrs. Morel and Annie 
almost contested with Miriam who should listen best and win 
his favour. He was in very high feather. 

"But," interrupted Mrs. Morel, "what is the 'Bride of Enderby' 
that the bells are supposed to ring?" 

"It's an old tune they used to play on the bells for a warning 
against water. 1 suppose the Bride of Enderby was drowned in 
a flood," he replied. He had not the faintest knowledge what 
it really was, but he would never have sunk so low as to con- 
fess that to his womenfolk. They listened and believed him. 
He believed himself. 

"And the people knew what that tune meant?" said his 

"Yes — just like the Scotch when they heard 'The Flowers o' 
the Forest' — and when they used to ring the bells backward 
for alarm." 

"How?" said Annie. "A bell sounds the same whether it's 
rung backwards or forwards." 

"But," he said, "if you start with the deep bell and ring up 
to the high one^-der— der — der — der — der — der — der — der!" 

He ran up the scale. Everybody thought it clever. He 
thought so too. Then, waiting a minute, he continued the 

"Hm!" said Mrs. Morel curiously, when he finished. "But 1 
wish everything that's written weren't so sad." 

"/ canna see what they want drownin' theirselves for," said 

There was a pause. Annie got up to clear the table. 

Miriam rose to help with the pots. 


"Let me help to wash up," she said. 

"Certainly not/' cried Annie. "You sit down again. There 
aren't many." 

And Miriam, who could not be familiar and insist, sat down 
again to look at the book with Paul. 

He was master of the party; his father was no good. And 
great tortures he suffered lest the tin box should be put out at 
Firsby instead of at Mablethorpe. And he wasn't equal to get- 
ting a carriage. His bold little mother did that. 

"Here!" she cried to a man. "Here!" 

Paul and Annie got behind the rest, convulsed with shamed 

"How much will it be to drive to Brook Cottage?" said Mrs. 

"Two shillings." 

"Why, how far is it?" 

"A good way." 

"1 don't believe it," she said. 

But she scrambled in. There were eight crowded in one old 
seaside carriage. 

"You see," said Mrs. Morel, "it's only threepence each, and 
if it were a tram-car " 

They drove along. Each cottage they came to, Mrs. Morel 
cried : 

"Is it this ? Now, this is it ! " 

Everybody sat breathless. They drove past. There was a 
universal sigh. 

"I'm thankful it wasn't that brute," said Mrs. Morel. "1 was 
frightened." They drove on and on. 

At last they descended at a house that stood alone over the 
dyke by the highroad. There was wild excitement because 
they had to cross a little bridge to get into the front garden. 
But they loved the house that lay so solitary, with a sea- 
meadow on one side, and immense expanse of land patched 
in white barley, yellow oats, red wheat, and green root-crops, 
flat and stretching level to the sky. 

Paul kept accounts. He and his mother ran the show. The 
total expenses — lodging, food, everything — was sixteen shillings 
a week per person. He and Leonard went bathing in the morn- 
ing. Morel was wandering abroad quite early. 

"You, Paul," his mother called from the bedroom, "eat a 
piece of bread-and-butter." 


"All ri^t," he answered. 

And when he got back he saw his mother presiding in state 
at the breakfast-table. The woman of the house was young. Her 
husband was blind, and she did laundry work. So Mrs. Morel 
always washed the pots in the kitchen and made the beds. 

"But you said you'd have a real holiday," said Paul, "and 
now you work." 

"Work!" she exclaimed. "What are you talking about!" 

He loved to go with her across the fields to the village and 
the sea. She was afraid of the plank bridge, and he abused 
her for being a baby. On the whole he stuck to her as if he 
were her man. 

Miriam did not get much of him, except, perhaps, when all 
the others went to the "Coons". Coons were insufferably 
stupid to Miriam, so he thought they were to himself also, and 
he preached priggishly to Annie about the fatuity of listening 
to them. Yet he, too, knew all their songs, and sang them along 
the roads roisterously. And if he found himself listening, the 
stupidity pleased him very much. Yet to Annie he said : 

"Such rot! there isn't a grain of intelligence in it. Nobody 
with more gumption than a grasshopper could go and sit and 
listen." And to Miriam he said, with much scorn of Annie and 
the others: "I suppose they're at the 'Coons'." 

It was queer to see Miriam singing coon songs. She had a 
straight chin that went in a perpendicular line from the lower 
lip to the turn. She always reminded Paul of some sad Botticelli 
angel when she sang, even when it was : 

"Come down lover's lane 
For a walk with me, talk with me." 

Only when he sketched, or at evening when the others were 
at the "Coons", she had him to herself. He talked to her end- 
lessly about his love of horizontals : how they, the great levels 
of sky and land in Lincolnshire, meant to him the eternality 
of the will, just as the bowed Norman arches of the church, 
repeating themselves, meant the dogged leaping forward of the 
persistent human soul, on and on, nobody knows where; in 
contradiction to the perpendicular lines and to the Gothic arch, 
which, he said, leapt up at heaven and touched the ecstasy 
and lost itself in the divine. Himself, he said, was Norman, 
Miriam was Gothic. She bowed in consent even to that. 


One evening he and she went up the great sweeping shore of 
sand towards Theddlethorpe. The long breakers plunged and 
ran in a hiss of foam along the coast. It was a warm evening. 
There was not a figure but themselves on the far reaches of 
sand, no noise but the sound of the sea. Paul loved to see it 
clanging at the land. He loved to feel himself between the 
noise of it and the silence of the sandy shore. Miriam was with 
him. Everything grew very intense. It was quite dark when 
they turned again. The way home was through a gap in the 
sandhills, and then along a raised grass road between two 
dykes. The country was black and still. From behind the sand- 
hills came the whisper of the sea. Paul and Miriam walked in 
silence. Suddenly he started. The whole of his blood seemed to 
burst into flame, and he could scarcely breathe. An enormous 
orange moon was staring at them from the rim of the sand- 
hills. He stood still, looking at it. 

"Ah!" cried Miriam, when she saw it. 

He remained perfectly still, staring at the immense and 
ruddy moon, the only thing in the far-reaching darkness of 
the level. His heart beat heavily, the muscles of his arms 

"What is it?" murmured Miriam, waiting for him. 

He turned and looked at her. She stood beside him, for ever 
in shadow. Her face, covered with the darkness of her hat, 
was watching him unseen. But she was brooding. She was 
slightly afraid — deeply moved and religious. That was her best 
state. He was impotent against it. His blood was concentrated 
like a flame in his chest. But he could not get across to her. 
There were flashes in his blood. But somehow she ignored 
them. She was expecting some religious state in him. Still 
yearning, she was half aware of his passion, and gazed at him, 

"What is it?" she murmured again. 

"It's the moon," he answered, frowning. 

"Yes," she assented. "Isn't it wonderful?" She was curious 
about him. The crisis was past. 

He did not know himself what was the matter. He was 
naturally so young, and their intimacy was so abstract, he did 
not know he wanted to crush her on to his breast to ease the 
ache there. He was afraid of her. The fact that he might want 
her as a man wants a woman had in him been suppressed into 
a shame. When she shrank in her convulsed, coiled torture 


from the thought of such a thing, he had winced to the depths 
of his soul. And now this "purity" prevented even their first 
love-kiss. It was as if she could scarcely stand the shock of 
physical love, even a passionate kiss, and then he was too 
shrinking and sensitive to give it. 

As they walked along the dark fen-meadow he watched the 
moon and did not speak. She plodded beside him. He hated 
her, for she seemed in some way to make him despise him- 
self. Looking ahead — he saw the one light in the darkness, the 
window of their lamp-lit cottage. 

He loved to think of his mother, and the other jolly people. 

"Well, everybody else has been in long ago ! " said his mother 
as they entered. 

"What does that matter!" he cried irritably. "I can go a 
walk if 1 like, can't 1?" 

"And I should have thought you could get in to supper with 
the rest," said Mrs. Morel. 

"I shall please myself," he retorted. "It's not late. I shall 
do as I like." 

"Very well," said his mother cuttingly, "then do as you like." 
And she took no further notice of him that evening. Which 
he pretended neither to notice nor to care about, but sat read- 
ing. Miriam read also, obliterating herself. Mrs. Morel hated 
her for making her son like this. She watched Paul growing 
irritable, priggish, and melancholic. For this she put the blame 
on Miriam. Annie and all her friends joined against the girl. 
Miriam had no friend of her own, only Paul. But she did not 
suffer so much, because she despised the triviality of these 
other people. 

And Paul hated her because, somehow, she spoilt his ease 
and naturalness. And he writhed himself with a feeling of , ^^ 
humiliation, ^^^^^li^ M^^ M/H^ 4^^^?r^^ 




Arthur finished his apprenticeship, and got a job on the 
electrical plant at Minton Pit. He earned very little, but had 
a good chance of getting on. But he was wild and restless. He 
did not drink nor gamble. Yet he somehow contrived to get 


into endless scrapes, always through some hot-headed thought- 
lessness. Either he went rabbiting in the woods, like a poacher, 
or he stayed in Nottingham all night instead of coming home, 
or he miscalculated his dive into the canal at Bestwood, and 
scored his chest into one mass of wounds on the raw stones 
and tins at the bottom. 

He had not been at his work many months when again he 
did not come home one night. 

"Do you know where Arthur is?" asked Paul at breakfast. 

"I do not," replied his mother. 

"He is a fool," said Paul. "And if he did anything I shouldn't 
mind. But no, he simply can't come away from a game of 
whist, or else he must see a girl home from the skating-rink — 
quite proprietously — and so can't get home. He's a fool." 

"I don't know that it would make it any better if he did 
something to make us all ashamed," said Mrs. Morel. 

"Well, / should respect him more," said Paul. 

"I very much doubt it," said his mother coldly. 

They went on with breakfast. 

"Are you fearfully fond of him?" Paul asked his mother. 

"What do you ask that for?" 

"Because they say a woman always like the youngest best." 

"She may do — but I don't. No, he wearies me." 

"And you'd actually rather he was good?" 

"I'd rather he showed some of a man's common sense." 

Paul was raw and irritable. He also wearied his mother 
very often. She saw the sunshing,„gQing out of him, and she 
resented it. ^-' 

As they were finishing breakfast came the postman with a 
letter from Derby. Mrs. Morel screwed up her eyes to look at 
the address. 

"Give it here, blind eye!" exclaimed her son, snatching it 
away from her. 

She started, and almost boxed his ears. 

"It's from your son, Arthur," he said. 

"What now !" cried Mrs. Morel. 

" 'My dearest Mother,' " Paul read, " 'I don't know what 
made me such a fool. 1 want you to come and fetch me back 
from here. I came with Jack Bredon yesterday, instead of 
going to work, and enlisted. He said he was sick of wearing 
the seat of a stool out, and, like the idiot you know I am, I 
came away with him. 


" *I have taken the King's shilling, but perhaps if you came 
for me they would let me go back with you. I was a fool when 
I did it. I don't want to be in the army. My dear mother, I 
am nothing but a trouble to you. But if you get me out of this, 
I promise I will have more sense and consideration. . . .' " 

Mrs. Morel sat down in her rocking-chair. 

"Well, now," she cried, "let him stop!" 

"Yes," said Paul, "let him stop." 

There was silence. The mother sat with her hands folded in 
her apron, her face set, thinking. 

"If I'm not sickl" she cried suddenly. "Sick!" 

"Now," said Paul, beginning to frown, "you're not going to 
worry your soul out about this, do you hear." 

"I suppose I'm to take it as a blessing," she flashed, turning 
on her son. 

"You're not going to mount it up to a tragedy, so there," 
he retorted. 

"The fool I — ^the young fool!" she cried. 

"He'll look well in uniform," said Paul irritatingly. 

His mother turned on him like a fury. 

"Oh, will he!" she cried. "Not in my eyes!" 

"He should get in a cavalry regiment; he'll have the time of 
his life, and will look an awful swell." 

"Swell! — swell! — a mighty swell idea indeed! — a common 

"Well," said Paul, "what am I but a common clerk?" 

"A good deal, my boy!" cried his mother, stung. 


"At any rate, a man, and not a thing in a red coat." 

"I shouldn't mind being in a red coat — or dark blue, that 
would suit me better — if they didn't boss me about too much." 

But his mother had ceased to listen. 

"Just as he was getting on, or might have been getting on, at 
his job — a young nuisance — here he goes and ruins himself for 
life. What good will he be, do you think, after this?'* 

"It may lick him into shape beautifully," said Paul. 

"Lick him into shape! — lick what marrow there was out 
of his bones. A soldier \ — a common soldier \ — nothing but a 
body that makes movements when it hears a shout ! It's a fine 

"I can't understand why it upsets you," said Paul. 

"No, perhaps you can't. But / understand"; and she sat 


back in her chair, her chin in one hand, holding her elbow with 
the other, brimmed up with wrath and chagrin. 

"And shall you go to Derby?" asked Paul. 


"It's no good." 

"I'll see for myself." 

"And why on earth don't you let him stop. It's just what 
he wants." 

"Of course," cried the mother, "you know what he wants!" 

She got ready and went by the first train to Derby, where 
she saw her son and the sergeant. It was, however, no good. 

When Morel was having his dinner in the evening, she said 
suddenly : 

"I've had to go to Derby to-day." 

The miner turned up his eyes, showing the whites in his 
black face. 

"Has ter, lass. What took thee there?" 

"That Arthur!" 

"Oh — an' what's agate now?" 

"He's only enlisted." 

Morel put down his knife and leaned back in his chair. 

"Nay," he said, "that he niver 'as!" 

"And is going down to Aldershot to-morrow." 

"Well!" exclaimed the miner. "That's a winder." He con- 
sidered it a moment, said "H'm!" and proceeded with his 
dinner. Suddenly his face contracted with wrath. "I hope he 
may never set foot i' my house again," he said. 

"The idea!" cried Mrs. Morel. "Saying such a thing!" 

"I do," repeated Morel. "A fool as runs away for a soldier, 
let 'im look after 'issen; I s'll do no more for 'im." 

"A fat sight you have done as it is," she said. 

And Morel was almost ashamed to go to his public-house 
that evening. 

"Well, did you go?" said Paul to his mother when he came 

"I did." 

"And could you see him?" 


"And what did he say?" 

"He blubbered when I came away." 


"And so did I, so you needn't 'h'm' ! " 


Mrs. Morel fretted after her son. She knew he would not like 
the army. He did not. The discipline was intolerable to him. 

"But the doctor," she said with some pride to Paul, "said he 
was perfectly proportioned — almost exactly; all his measure- 
ments were correct. He is good-looking, you know." 

"He's awfully nice-looking. But he doesn't fetch the girls 
like William, does he?" 

"No; it's a different character. He's a good deal like his 
father, irresponsible." 

To console his mother, Paul did not go much to Willey Farm 
at tl^isJcime. And in the autumn exhibition of students' work 
in tMe/Castle he had two studies, a landscape in water-colour 
and wstill life in oil, both of which had first-prize awards. He 
w^^ighly excited. 

*^hat do you think I've got for my pictures, mother?" he 
askedrcDfflihg home one evening. She saw by his eyes he was 
glad. Her face flushed. 

"Now, how should I know, my boy ! " 

"A first prize for those glass jars " 


"And a first prize for that sketch up at Willey Farm." 

"Both first?" 



There was a rosy, bright look about her, though she said 

"It's nice," he said, "isn't it?" 

"It is." 

"Why don't you praise me up to the skies?" 

She laughed. 

"I should have the trouble of dragging you down again," 
she said. 

But she was full of joy, nevertheless. William had brought 
her his sporting trophies. She kept them still, and she did not 
forgive his death. Arthur was handsome — at least, a good speci- 
men — and warm and generous, and probably would do well in 
the end. But Paul was going to distinguish himself. She had 
a great belief in him, the more because he was unaware of his 
own powers. There was so much to come out of him. Life for 
her was rich with promise. She was to see herself fulfilled. 
Not for nothing had been her struggle. 

Several times during the exhibition Mrs. Morel went to the 


Castle unknown to Paul. She wandered down the long room 
looking at the other exhibits. Yes, they were goM. But they 
had not in them a certain something which she dOTnanded for 
her satisfaction. Some made her jealous, they weWso good. 
She looked at them a long time trying to find fault With them. 
Then suddenly she had a shock that made her heart be§t. There 
hung Paul's picture ! She knew it as if it werejprinted on her 

"Name — Paul Morel — First Prize." 

It looked so strange, there in public, on the walls of the 
Castle gallery, where in her lifetime she had seen so many 
pictures. And she glanced round to see if anyone had noticed 
her again in front of the same sketch. 

But she felt a proud woman. When she met well-dressed 
ladies going home to the Park, she thought to herself : 

"Yes, you look very well — but 1 wonder if your son has two 
first prizes in the Castle." 

And she walked on, as proud a little woman as any in 
Nottingham. And Paul felt he had done something for her, 
if only a trifle. All his work was hers. 

One day, as he was going up Castle Gate, he met Miriam. 
He had seen her on the Sunday, and had not expected to meet 
her in town. She was walking with a rather striking woman, 
blonde, with a sullen expression, and a defiant carriage. It was 
strange how Miriam, in her bowed, meditative bearing, looked 
dwarfed beside this woman with the handsome shoulders. 
Miriam watched Paul searchingly. His gaze was on the 
stranger, who ignored him. The girl saw his masculine spirit 
rear its head. 

"Hello!" he said, "you didn't tell me you were coming to 

"No," replied Miriam, half apologetically. "I drove in to 
Cattle Market with father." 

He looked at her companion. 

"I've told you about Mrs. Dawes," said Miriam huskily; she 
was nervous. "Clara, do you know Paul?" 

"I think I've seen him before," repHed Mrs. Dawes in- 
differently, as she shook hands with him. She had scornful 
grey eyes, a skin like white honey, and a full mouth, with a 
slightly lifted upper lip that did not know whether it was 
raised in scorn of all men or out of eagerness to be kissed, but 
which believed the former. She carried her head back, as if 


she had drawn away in contempt, perhaps from men also. 
She wore a large, dowdy hat of black beaver, and a sort of 
slightly affected simple dress that made her look rather sack- 
like. She was evidently poor, and had not much taste. Miriam 
usually looked nice. 

"Where have you seen me?" Paul asked of the woman. 

She looked at him as if she would not trouble to answer. 

"Walking with Louie Travers," she said. 

Louie was one of the "Spiral" girls. 

"Why, do you know her?" he asked. 

She did not answer. He turned to Miriam. 

"Where are you going?" he asked. 

"To the Castle." 

"What train are you going home by?" 

"1 am driving with father. I wish you could come too. What 
time are you free?" 

"You know not till eight to-night, damn it!" 

And directly the two women moved on. 

Paul remembered that Clara Dawes was the daughter of an 
old friend of Mrs. Leivers. Miriam had sought her out because 
she had once been Spiral overseer at Jordan's, and because her 
husband, Baxter Dawes, was smith for the factory, making the 
irons for cripple instruments, and so on. Through her Miriam 
felt she got into direct contact with Jordan's, and could 
estimate better Paul's position. But Mrs. Dawes was separated 
from her husband, and had taken up Women's Rights. She was 
supposed to be clever. It interested Paul. 

Baxter Dawes he knew and disliked. The smith was a man 
of thirty-one or thirty-two. He came occasionally through 
Paul's corner — a big, well-set man, also striking to look at, 
and handsome. There was a peculiar similarity between him- 
self and his wife. He had the same white skin, with a clear, 
golden tinge. His hair was of soft brown, his moustache was 
golden. And he had a similar defiance in his bearing and 
manner. But then came the difference. His eyes, dark brown 
and quick-shifting, were dissolute. They protruded very 
slightly, and his eyelids hung over them in a way that was 
half hate. His mouth, too, was sensual. His whole manner 
was of cowed defiance, as if he were ready to knock anybody 
down who disapproved of him — perhaps because he really dis- 
approved of himself. 


From the first day he had hated Paul. Finding the lad's 
impersonal, deliberate gaze of an artist on his face, he got 
into a fury. 

"What are yer lookin' at?" he sneered, bullying. 

The boy glanced away. But the smith used to stand behind 
the counter and talk to Mr. Papple worth. His speech was dirty, 
with a kind of rottenness. Again he found the youth with his 
cool, critical gaze fixed on his face. The smith started round 
as if he had been stung. 

"What'r yer lookin' at, three hap'orth o' pap?" he snarled. 

The boy shrugged his shoulders slightly. 

"Why yer !" shouted Dawes. 

"Leave him alone," said Mr. Pappleworth, in that insinuating 
voice which means, "He's only one of your good little sops 
who can't help it." 

Since that time the boy used to look at the man every time 
he came through with the same curious criticism, glancing 
away before he met the smith's eye. It made Dawes furious. 
They hated each other in silence. 

Clara Dawes had no children. When she had left her husband 
the home had been broken up, and she had gone to live with 
her mother. Dawes lodged with his sister. In the same house 
was a sister-in-law, and somehow Paul knew that this girl, 
Louie Travers, was now Dawes's woman. She was a hand- 
some, insolent hussy, who mocked at the youth, and yet 
flushed if he walked along to the station with her as she 
went home. 

The next time he went to see Miriam it was Saturday 
evening. She had a fire in the parlour, and was waiting for 
him. The others, except her father and mother and the young 
children, had gone out, so the two had the parlour together. 
It was a long, low, warm room. There were three of Paul's 
small sketches on the wall, and his photo was on the mantel- 
piece. On the table and on the high old rosewood piano were 
bowls of coloured leaves. He sat in the arm-chair, she crouched 
on the hearthrug near his feet. The glow was warm on 
her handsome, pensive face as she kneeled there like a 

"What did you think of Mrs. Dawes?" she asked quietly. 

"She doesn't look very amiable," he replied. 

"No, but don't you think she's a fine woman?" she said, in 
a deep tone. 


"Yes — in stature. But without a grain of taste. I like her 
for some things. Is she disagreeable?" 

"I don't think so. I think she's dissatisfied." 

"What with?" 

"Well — how would you like to be tied for life to a man like 

"Why did she marry him, then, if she was to have revulsions 
so soon?" 

"Ay, why did she!" repeated Miriam bitterly. 

"And 1 should have thought she had enough fight in her to 
match him," he said. 

Miriam bowed her head. 

"Ay?" she queried satirically. "What makes you think 

"Look at her mouth — made for passion — and the very set- 
back of her throat " He threw his head back in Clara's 

defiant manner. 

Miriam bowed a little lower. 

"Yes," she said. 

There was a silence for some moments, while he thought of 

"And what were the things you liked about her?" she asked. 

"I don't know — her skin and the texture of her — and her — 
I don't know — there's a sort of fierceness somewhere in her. I 
appreciate her as an artist, that's all." 


He wondered why Miriam crouched there brooding in that 
strange way. It irritated him. 

"You don't really like her, do you?" he asked the girl. 

She looked at him with her great, dazzled dark eyes. 

"I do," she said. 

"You don't — ^you can't — not really." 

"Then what?" she asked slowly. 

"Eh, I don't know — perhaps you like her because she's got a 
grudge against men." 

That was more probably one of his own reasons for liking 
Mrs. Dawes, but this did not occur to him. They were silent. 
There had come into his forehead a knitting of the brows 
which was becoming habitual with him, particularly when he 
was with Miriam. She longed to smooth it away, and she was 
afraid of it. It seemed the stamp of a man who was not her 
man in Paul Morel. 


There were some crimson berries among the leaves in the 
bowl. He reached over and pulled out a bunch. 

"If you put red berries in your hair," he said, "why would 
you look like some witch or priestess, and never like a 

She laughed with a naked, painful sound. 

'T don't know," she said. 

His vigorous warm hands were playing excitedly with the 

"Why can't you laugh?" he said. "You never laugh laughter. 
You only laugh when something is odd or incongruous, and 
then it almost seems to hurt you." 

She bowed her head as if he were scolding her. 

"I wish you could laugh at me just for one minute — just for 
one minute. 1 feel as if it would set something free." 

"But" — and she looked up at him with eyes frightened and 
struggling — "I do laugh at you — 1 do." 

"Never! There's always a kind of intensity. When you 
laugh I could always cry; it seems as if it shows up your 
suffering. Oh, you make me knit the brows of my very soul 
and cogitate." 

Slowly she shook her head despairingly. 

"I'm sure 1 don't want to," she said. 

"I'm so damned spiritual with you always!" he cried. 

She remained silent, thinking, "Then why don't you be 
otherwise." But he saw her crouching, brooding figure, and 
it seemed to tear him in two. 

"But, there, it's autumn," he said, "and everybody feels like 
a disembodied spirit then." 

There was still another silence. This peculiar sadness between 
them thrilled her soul. He seemed so beautiful with his eyes 
gone dark, and looking as if they were deep as the deepest 

"You make me so spiritual!" he lamented. "And I don't 
want to be spiritual." 

She took her finger from her mouth with a little pop, and 
looked up at him almost challenging. But still her soul was 
naked in her great dark eyes, and there was the same yearning 
appeal upon her. If he could have kissed her in abstract purity 
he would have done so. But he could not kiss her thus — 
and she seemed to leave no other way. And she yearned to 


He gave a brief laugh. 

"Well," he said, "get that French and we'll do some — some 

"Yes," she said in a deep tone, almost of resignation. And 
she rose and got the books. And her rather red, nervous hands 
looked so pitiful, he was mad to comfort her and kiss her. 
But then he dared not — or could not. There was something 
prevented him. His kisses were wrong for her. They con- 
tinued the reading till ten o'clock, when they went into the 
kitchen, and Paul was natural and jolly again with the father 
and mother. His eyes were dark and shining; there was a kind 
of fascination about him. 

When he went into the barn for his bicycle he found the 
front wheel punctured. 

"Fetch me a drop of water in a bowl," he sal.' o her. "I 
shall be late, and then I s'll catch it." 

He lighted the hurricane lamp, took off his coat, turned up 
the bicycle, and set speedily to work. Miriam came with the 
bowl of water and stood close to him, watching. She loved to 
see his hands doing things. He was slim and vigorous, with a 
kind of easiness even in his most hasty movements. And busy 
at his work he seemed to forget her. She loved him absorbedly. 
She wanted to run her hands down his sides. She always 
/wanted to embrace him, so long as he did not want her. 

"There!" he said, rising suddenly. "Now, could you have 
done it quicker?" 

"No!" she laughed. 

He straightened himself. His back was towards her. She put 
her two hands on his sides, and ran them quickly down. 

"You are so fine!" she said. 

He laughed, hating her voice, but his blood roused to a wave 
of flame by her hands. She did not seem to realise him in all 
this. He might have been an object. She never realised the 
male he was. 

He lighted his bicycle-lamp, bounced the machine on the 
barn floor to see that the tyres were sound, and buttoned his 

"That's all right!" he said. 

She was trying the brakes, that she knew were broken. 

"Did you have them mended?" she asked. 


"But why didn't you?" 


"The back one goes on a bit." 

"But it's not safe." 

"I can use my toe." 

"I wish you'd had them mended," she murmured. 

"Don't worry — come to tea to-morrow, with Edgar." 

"Shall we?" 

"Do — about four. I'll come to meet you." 

"Very well." 

She was pleased. They went across the dark yard to the gate. 
Looking across, he saw through the uncurtained window of 
the kitchen the heads of Mr. and Mrs. Leivers in the warm 
glow. It looked very cosy. The road, with pine trees, was quite 
black in front. 

"Till to-morrow," he said, jumping on his bicycle. 

"You'll take care, won't you?" she pleaded. 


His voice already came out of the darkness. She stood a 
moment watching the light from his lamp race into obscurity 
along the ground. She turned very slowly indoors. Orion was 
wheeling up over the wood, his dog twinkling after him, half 
smothered. For the rest the world was full of darkness, and 
silent, save for the breathing of cattle in their stalls. She prayed 
earnestly for his safety that night. When he left her, she often 
lay in anxiety, wondering if he had got home safely. 

He dropped down the hills on his bicycle. The roads were 
greasy, so he had to let it go. He felt a pleasure as the machine 
plunged over the second, steeper drop in the hill. "Here goes!" 
he said. It was risky, because of the curve in the darkness at 
the bottom, and because of the brewers' waggons with drunken 
waggoners asleep. His bicycle seemed to fall beneath him, and 
he loved it. Recklessness is almost a man's revenge on his 
woman. He feels he is not valued, so he will risk destroying 
himself to deprive her altogether. 

The stars on the lake seemed to leap like grasshoppers, silver 
upon the blackness, as he spun past. Then there was the long 
climb home. 

"See, mother ! " he said, as he threw her the berries and leaves 
on to the table. 

"H'm!" she said, glancing at them, then away again. She 
sat reading, alone, as she always did. 

"Aren't they pretty?" 



He knew she was cross with him. After a few minutes he 
said : 

"Edgar and Miriam are coming to tea to-morrow." 

She did not answer. 

"You don't mind?" 

Still she did not answer. 

"Do you?" he asked. 

"You know whether I mind or not." 

"I don't see why you should. I have plenty of meals there." 

"You do." 

"Then why do you begrudge them tea?" 

"I begrudge whom tea?" 

"What are you so horrid for?" 

"Oh, say no more! You've asked her to tea, it's quite 
sufficient. She'll come." 

He was very angry with his mother. He knew it was merely 
Miriam she objected to. He flung off his boots and went to bed. 

Paul went to meet his friends the next afternoon. He was 
glad to see them coming. They arrived home at about four 
o'clock. Everywhere was clean and still for Sunday afternoon. 
Mrs. Morel sat in her black dress and black apron. She rose to 
meet the visitors. With Edgar she was cordial, but with Miriam 
cold and rather grudging. Yet Paul thought the girl looked so 
nice in her brown cashmere frock. 

He helped his mother to get the tea ready. Miriam would 
have gladly proffered, but was afraid. He was rather proud of 
his home. There was about it now, he thought, a certain distinc- 
tion. The chairs were only wooden, and the sofa was old. But 
the hearthrug and cushions were cosy; the pictures were prints 
in good taste; there was a simplicity in everything, and plenty 
of books. He was never ashamed in the least of his home, nor 
was Miriam of hers, because both were what they should be, 
and warm. And then he was proud of the table; the china was 
pretty, the cloth was fine. It did not matter that the spoons 
were not silver nor the knives ivory-handled; everything looked 
nice. Mrs. Morel had managed wonderfully while her children 
were growing up, so that nothing was out of place. 

Miriam talked books a little. That was her unfailing topic. 
But Mrs. Morel was not cordial, and turned soon to Edgar. 

At first Edgar and Miriam used to go into Mrs. Morel's pew. 
Morel never went to chapel, preferring the public-house. Mrs. 
Morel, like a little champion, sat at the head of her pew, Paul 


at the other end; and at first Miriam sat next to him. Then the 
chapel was like home. It was a pretty place, with dark pews 
and slim, elegant pillars, and flowers. And the same people 
had sat in the same places ever since he was a boy. It was 
wonderfully sweet and soothing to sit there for an hour and a 
half, next to Miriam, and near to his mother, uniting his two 
loves under the spell of the place of worship. Then he felt 
warm and happy and religious at once. And after chapel he 
walked home with Miriam, whilst Mrs. Morel spent the rest 
of the evening with her old friend, Mrs. Burns. He was keenly 
alive on his walks on Sunday nights with Edgar and Miriam. 
He never went past the pits at night, by the lighted lamp- 
house, the tall black head-stocks and lines of trucks, past the 
fans spinning slowly like shadows, without the feeling of 
Miriam returning to him, keen and almost unbearable. 

She did not very long occupy the Morels' pew. Her father 
took one for themselves once more. It was under the little 
gallery, opposite the Morels'. When Paul and his mother came 
in the chapel the Leivers's pew was always empty. He was 
anxious for fear she would not come : it was so far, and there 
were so many rainy Sundays. Then, often very late indeed, she 
came in, with her long stride, her head bowed, her face hidden 
under her hat of dark green velvet. Her face, as she sat 
opposite, was always in shadow. But it gave him a very keen 
feeling, as if all his soul stirred within him, to see her there. 
It was not the same glow, happiness, and pride, that he felt in 
having his mother in charge : something more wonderful, less 
human, and tinged to intensity by a pain, as if there were some- 
thing he could not get to. 

At this time he was beginning to question the orthodox 
creed. He was twenty-one, and she was twenty. She was 
beginning to dread the spring: he became so wild, and hurt 
her so much. All the way he went cruelly smashing her beliefs. 
Edgar enjoyed it. He was by nature critical and rather dis- 
passionate. But Miriam suffered exquisite pain, as, with an 
intellect like a knife, the man she loved examined her religion 
in which she lived and moved and had her being. But he did 
not spare her. He was cruel. And when they went alone he was 
even more fierce, as if he would kill her soul. He bled her 
beliefs till she almost lost consciousness. 

"She exults — she exults as she carries him off from me," 
Mrs. Morel cried in her heart when Paul had gone. "She's not 


like an ordinary woman, who can leave me my share in him. 
She wants to absorb him. She wants to draw him out and 
absorb him till there is nothing left of him, even for himself. 
He will never be a man on his own feet — she will suck him 
up." So the mother sat, and battled and brooded bitterly. 

And he, coming home from his walks with Miriam, was 
wild with torture. He walked biting his lips and with clenched 
fists, going at a great rate. Then, brought up against a stile, 
he stood for some minutes, and did not move. There was a 
great hollow of darkness fronting him, and on the black up- 
slopes patches of tiny lights, and in the lowest trough of the 
night, a flare of the pit. It was all weird and dreadful. Why 
was he torn so, almost bewildered, and unable to move? Why 
did his mother sit at home and suffer? He knew she suffered 
badly. But why should she ? And why did he hate Miriam, and 
feel so cruel towards her, at the thought of his mother. If 
Miriam caused his mother suffering, then he hated her — and he 
easily hated her. Why did she make him feel as if he were un- 
certain of himself, insecure, an indefinite thing, as if he had 
not sufficient sheathing to prevent the night and the space 
breaking into him ? How he hated her ! And then, what a rush 
of tenderness and humility! 

Suddenly he plunged on again, running home. His mother 
saw on him the marks of some agony, and she said nothing. 
But he had to make her talk to him. Then she was angry with 
him for going so far with Miriam. 

"Why don't you like her, mother?" he cried in despair. 

"I don't know, my boy," she replied piteously. "I'm sure 
I've tried to like her. I've tried and tried, but I can't — I can't!" 

And he felt dreary and hopeless between the two. 

Spring was the worst time. He was changeable, and intense 
and cruel. So he decided to stay away from her. Then came 
the hours when he knew Miriam was expecting him. His 
mother watched him growing restless. He could not go on 
with his work. He could do nothing. It was as if something 
were drawing his soul out towards Willey Farm. Then he put 
on his hat and went, saying nothing. And his mother knew he 
was gone. And as soon as he was on the way he sighed with 
relief. And when he was with her he was cruel again. 

One day in March he lay on the bank of Nethermere, with 
Miriam sitting beside him. It was a glistening, white-and-blue 
day. Big clouds, so brilliant, went by overhead, while shadows 


Stole along on the water. The clear spaces in the sky were of 
clean, cold blue. Paul lay on his back in the old grass, looking 
up. He could not bear to look at Miriam. She seemed to want 
him, and he resisted. He resisted all the time. He wanted now 
to give her passion and tenderness, and he could not. He felt 
that she wanted the soul out of his body, and not him. All 
his strength and energy she drew into herself through some 
channel which united them. She did not want to meet him, 
so that there were two of them, man and woman together. 
She wanted to draw all of him into her. It urged him to an 
intensity like madness, which fascinated him, as drug-taking 

He was discussing Michael Angelo. It felt to her as if she 
were fingering the very quivering tissue, the very protoplasm 
of life, as she heard him. It gave her deepest satisfaction. And 
in the end it frightened her. There he lay in the white intensity 
of his search, and his voice gradually filled her with fear, so 
level it was, almost inhuman, as if in a trance. 

"Don't talk any more," she pleaded softly, laying her hand 
on his forehead. 

He lay quite still, almost unable to move. His body was 
somewhere discarded. 

"Why not? Are you tired?" 

"Yes, and it wears you out." 

He laughed shortly, realising. 

"Yet you always make me like it," he said. 

"I don't wish to," she said, very low. 

"Not when you've gone too far, and you feel you can't bear 
it. But your unconscious self always asks it of me. And I 
suppose I want it." 

He went on, in his dead fashion : 

"If only you could want me, and not want what I can reel 
off for you!" 

"I!" she cried bitterly — "I! Why, when would you let me 
take you?" 

"Then it's my fault," he said, and, gathering himself together, 
he got up and began to talk trivialities. He felt insubstantial. 
In a vague way he hated her for it. And he knew he was as 
much to blame himself. This, however, did not prevent his 
hating her. 

One evening about this time he had walked along the home 
road with her. They stood by the pasture leading down to the 


wood, unable to part. As the stars came out the clouds closed. 
They had glimpses of their own constellation, Orion, towards 
the west. His jewels glimmered for a moment, his dog ran 
low, struggling with difficulty through the spume of cloud. 

Orion was for them chief in significance among the con- 
stellations. They had gazed at him in their strange, surcharged 
hours of feeling, until they seemed themselves to live in every 
one of his stars. This evening Paul had been moody and per- 
verse. Orion had seemed just an ordinary constellation to him. 
He had fought against his glamour and fascination. Miriam 
was watching her lover's mood carefully. But he said nothing 
that gave him away, till the moment came to part, when he 
stood frowning gloomily at the gathered clouds, behind which 
the great constellation must be striding still. 

There was to be a little party at his house the next day, at 
which she was to attend. 

"I shan't come and meet you," he said. 

"Oh, very well; it's not very nice out," she replied slowly. 

"It's not that — only they don't like me to. They say I care 
more for you than for them. And you understand, don't you? 
You know it's only friendship." 

Miriam was astonished and hurt for him. It had cost him 
an effort. She left him, wanting to spare him any further 
humiliation. A fine rain blew in her face as she walked along 
the road. She was hurt deep down; and she despised him for 
being blown about by any wind of authority. And in her 
heart of hearts, unconsciously, she felt that he was trying to 
get away from her. This she would never have acknowledged. 
She pitied him. 

At this time Paul became an important factor in Jordan's 
warehouse. Mr. Pappleworth left to set up a business of his 
own, and Paul remained with Mr. Jordan as Spiral overseer. 
His wages were to be raised to thirty shillings at the year-end, 
if things went well. 

Still on Friday night Miriam often came down for her French 
lesson. Paul did not go so frequently to Willey Farm, and she 
grieved at the thought of her education's coming to end; more- 
over, they both loved to be together, in spite of discords. 
So they read Balzac, and did compositions, and felt highly 

Friday night was reckoning night for the miners. Morel 
"reckoned" — shared up the money of the stall — either in the 


New Inn at Bretty or in his own house, according as his fellow- 
butties wished. Barker had turned a non-drinker, so now the 
men reckoned at Morel's house. 

Annie, who had been teaching away, was at home again. 
She was still a tomboy; and she was engaged to be married. 
Paul was studying design. 

Morel was always in good spirits on Friday evening, unless 
the week's earnings were small. He bustled immediately after 
his dinner, prepared to get washed. It was decorum for the 
women to absent themselves while the men reckoned. Women 
were not supposed to spy into such a masculine privacy as the 
butties' reckoning, nor were they to know the exact amount 
of the week's earnings. So, whilst her father was spluttering 
in the scullery, Annie went out to spend an hour with a neigh- 
bour. Mrs. Morel attended to her baking. 

"Shut that doo-er!" bawled Morel furiously. 

Annie banged it behind her, and was gone. 

"If tha oppens it again while I'm weshin' me, I'll ma'e thy 
jaw rattle," he threatened from the midst of his soap-suds. Paul 
and the mother frowned to hear him. 

Presently he came running out of the scullery, with the 
soapy water dripping from him, dithering with cold. 

"Oh, my sirs!" he said. "Wheer's my towel?" 

It was hung on a chair to warm before the fire, otherwise 
he would have bullied and blustered. He squatted on his heels 
before the hot baking-fire to dry himself. 

"F-ff-f!" he went, pretending to shudder with cold . 

"Goodness, man, don't be such a kid!" said Mrs. Morel. "It's 
not cold." 

"Thee strip thysen stark nak'd to wesh thy flesh i' that 
scullery," said the miner, as he rubbed his hair; "nowt b'r a 
ice-'ouse ! " 

"And I shouldn't make that fuss," replied his wife. 

"No, tha'd drop down stiff, as dead as a door-knob, wi' thy 
nesh sides." 

"Why is a door-knob deader than anything else?" asked 
Paul, curious. 

"Eh, I dunno; that's what they say," replied his father. "But 
there's that much draught i' yon scullery, as it blows through 
your ribs like through a five-barred gate." 

"It would have some difficulty in blowing through yours," 
said Mrs. Morel. 


Morel looked down ruefully at his sides. 

"Me!" he exclaimed. "I'm nowt b'r a skinned rabbit. My 
bones fair juts out on me." 

"I should like to know where," retorted his wife. 

"Iv'ry-wheer ! I'm nobbut a sack o' faggots." 

Mrs. Morel laughed. He had still a wonderfully young body, 
muscular, without any fat. His skin was smooth and clear. It 
might have been the body of a man of twenty-eight, except 
that there were, perhaps, too many blue scars, like tattoo- 
marks, where the coal-dust remained under the skin, and that 
his chest was too hairy. But he put his hand on his side rue- 
fully. It was his fixed belief that, because he did not get fat, 
he was as thin as a starved rat. 

Paul looked at his father's thick, brownish hands all scarred, 
with broken nails, rubbing the fine smoothness of his sides, 
and the incongruity struck him. It seemed strange they were 
the same flesh. 

"I suppose," he said to his father, "you had a good figure 

"Eh!" exclaimed the miner, glancing round, startled and 
timid, like a child. 

"He had," exclaimed Mrs. Morel, "if he didn't hurtle him- 
self up as if he was trying to get in the smallest space he could." 

"Me!" exclaimed Morel — "me a good figure! I wor niver 
much more n'r a skeleton." 

"Man ! " cried his wife, "don't be such a pulamiter ! " 

"'Strewth!" he said. "Tha's niver knowed me but \yhat I 
looked as if I wor goin' off in a rapid decline." 

She sat and laughed. 

"You've had a constitution like iron," she said; "and never 
a man had a better start, if it was body that counted. You 
should have seen him as a young man," she cried suddenly to 
Paul, drawing herself up to imitate her husband's once hand- 
some bearing. 

Morel watched her shyly. He saw again the passion she had 
had for him. It blazed upon her for a moment. He was shy, 
rather scared, and humble. Yet again he felt his old glow. And 
then immediately he felt the ruin he had made during these 
years. He wanted to bustle about, to run away from it. 

"Gi'e my back a bit of a wesh," he asked her. 

His wife brought a well-soaped flannel and clapped it on his 
shoulders. He gave a jump. 


"Eh, tha mucky little 'ussy!" he cried. "Cowd as death!" 

"You ought to have been a salamander," she laughed, wash- 
ing his back. It was very rarely she would do anything so 
personal for him. The children did those things. 

"The next world won't be half hot enough for you," she 

"No," he said; "tha'lt see as it's draughty for me." 

But she had finished. She wiped him in a desultory fashion, 
and went upstairs, returning immediately with his shifting- 
trousers. When he was dried he struggled into his shirt. Then, 
ruddy and shiny, with hair on end, and his flannelette shirt 
hanging over his pit-trousers, he stood warming the garments 
he was going to put on. He turned them, he pulled them inside 
out, he scorched them. 

"Goodness, man!" cried Mrs. Morel, "get dressed!" 

"Should thee like to clap thy sen into britches as cowd as a 
tub o' water?" he said. 

At last he took off his pit-trousers and donned decent black. 
He did all this on the hearth-rug, as he would have done if 
Annie and her familiar friends had been present. 

Mrs. Morel turned the bread in the oven. Then from the red 
earthenware panchion of dough that stood in a corner she took 
another handful of paste, worked it to the proper shape, and 
dropped it into a tin. As she was doing so Barker knocked and 
entered. He was a quiet, compact little man, who looked as if 
he would go through a stone wall. His black hair was cropped 
short, his head was bony. Like most miners, he was pale, but 
healthy and taut. 

"Evenin', missis," he nodded to Mrs. Morel, and he seated 
himself with a sigh. 

"Good-evening," she replied cordially. 

"Tha's made thy heels crack," said Morel. 

"I dunno as I have," said Barker. 

He sat, as the men always did in Morel's kitchen, effacing 
himself rather. 

"How's missis?" she asked of him. 

He had told her some time back: 

"We're expectin' us third just now, you see." 

"Well," he answered, rubbing his head, "she keeps pretty 
middlin', 1 think." 

"Let's see — ^when?" asked Mrs. Morel. 

"Well, I shouldn't be surprised any time now." 


"Ah! And she's kept fairly?" 

"Yes, tidy." 

"That's a blessing, for she's none too strong." 

"No. An' I've done another silly trick." 

"What's that?" 

Mrs. Morel knew Barker wouldn't do anything very silly. 

"I'm come be-out th' market-bag." 

"You can have mine." 

"Nay, you'll be wantin' that yourself." 

"I shan't. 1 take a string bag always." 

She saw the determined little collier buying in the week's 
groceries and meat on the Friday nights, and she admired him. 
"Barker's little, but he's ten times the man you are," she said 
to her husband. 

Just then Wesson entered. He was thin, rather frail-looking, 
with a boyish ingenuousness and a slightly foolish smile, 
despite his seven children. But his wife was a passionate 

"I see you've kested me," he said, smiling rather vapidly. 

"Yes," replied Barker. 

The newcomer took off his cap and his big woollen muffler. 
His nose was pointed and red. 

"I'm afraid you're cold, Mr. Wesson," said Mrs. Morel. 

"It's a bit nippy," he replied. 

"Then come to the fire." 

"Nay, I s'll do where I am." 

Both colliers sat away back. They could not be induced to 
come on to the hearth. The hearth is sacred to the family. 

"Go thy ways i' th' arm-chair," cried Morel cheerily. 

"Nay, thank yer; I'm very nicely here." 

"Yes, come, of course," insisted Mrs. Morel. 

He rose and went awkwardly. He sat in Morel's arm-chair 
awkwardly. It was too great a familiarity. But the fire made 
him blissfully happy. 

"And how's that chest of yours?" demanded Mrs. Morel. 

He smiled again, with his blue eyes rather sunny. 

"Oh, it's very middlin'," he said. 

"Wi' a rattle in it like a kettle-drum," said Barker shortly. 

"T-t-t-t!" went Mrs. Morel rapidly with her tongue. "Did 
you have that flannel singlet made?" 

"Not yet," he smiled. 

"Then, why didn't you?" she cried. 


"It'll come," he smiled. 

"Ah, an' Doomsday!" exclaimed Barker. 

Barker and Morel were both impatient of Wesson. But, then, 
they were both as hard as nails, physically. 

When Morel was nearly ready he pushed the bag of money 
to Paul. 

"Count it, boy," he asked humbly. 

Paul impatiently turned from his books and pencil, tipped 
the bag upside down on the table. There was a five-pound bag 
of silver, sovereigns and loose money. He counted quickly, 
referred to the checks — the written papers giving amount of 
coal — put the money in order. Then Barker glanced at the 

Mrs. Morel went upstairs, and the three men came to table. 
Morel, as master of the house, sat in his arm-chair, with his 
back to the hot fire. The two butties had cooler seats. None 
of them counted the money. 

"What did we say Simpson's was?" asked Morel; and the 
butties cavilled for a minute over the dayman's earnings. Then 
the amount was put aside. 

"An' Bill Naylor's?" 

This money also was taken from the pack. 

Then, because Wesson lived in one of the company's houses, 
and his rent had been deducted. Morel and Barker took four- 
and-six each. And because Morel's coals had come, and the 
leading was stopped. Barker and Wesson took four shillings 
each. Then it was plain sailing. Morel gave each of them a 
sovereign till there were no more sovereigns; each half a 
crown till there were no more half-crowns; each a shilling till 
there were no more shillings. If there was anything at the end 
that wouldn't split. Morel took it and stood drinks. 

Then the three men rose and went. Morel scuttled out of 
the house before his wife came down. She heard the door close, 
and descended. She looked hastily at the bread in the oven. 
Then, glancing on the table, she saw her money lying. Paul 
had been working all the time. But now he felt his mother 
counting the week's money, and her wrath rising. 

"T-t-t-t-t!" went her tongue. 

He frowned. He could not work when she was cross. She 
counted again. 

"A measly twenty-five shillings!" she exclaimed, "How 
much was the cheque?" 


"Ten pounds eleven/' said Paul irritably. He dreaded what 
was coming. 

"And he gives me a scrattlin' twenty-five, an' his club this 
week! But I know him. He thinks because you're earning he 
needn't keep the house any longer. No, all he has to do with 
his money is to guttle it. But I'll show him ! " 

"Oh, mother, don't!" cried Paul. 

"Don't what, 1 should like to know?" she exclaimed. 

"Don't carry on again. I can't work." 

She went very quiet. 

"Yes, it's all very well," she said; "but how do you think 
I'm going to manage?" 

"Well, it won't make it any better to whittle about it." 

"I should like to know what you'd do if you had it to put 
up with." 

"It won't be long. You can have my money. Let him go 
to hell." 

He went back to his work, and she tied her bonnet-strings 
grimly. When she was fretted he could not bear it. But now 
he began to insist on her recognizing him. 

"The two loaves at the top," she said, "will be done in twenty 
minutes. Don't forget them," 

"All right," he answered; and she went to market. 

He remained alone working. But his usual intense concentra- 
tion became unsettled. He listened for the yard-gate. At a 
quarter-past seven came a low knock, and Miriam entered. 

"All alone?" she said. 


As if at home, she took off her tam-o'-shanter and her long 
coat, hanging them up. It gave him a thrill. This might be 
their own house, his and hers. Then she came back and peered 
over his work. 

"What is it?" she asked. 

"Still design, for decorating stuffs, and for embroidery." 

She bent short-sightedly over the drawings. 

It irritated him that she peered so into everything that was 
his, searching him out. He went into the parlour and returned 
with a bundle of brownish linen. Carefully unfolding it, he 
spread it on the floor. It proved to be a curtain or portiere, 
beautifully stencilled with a design on roses. 

"Ah, how beautiful!" she cried. 

The spread cloth, with its wonderful reddish roses and dark 


green stems, all so simple, and somehow so wicked-looking, lay 
at her feet. She went on her knees before it, her dark curls 
dropping. He saw her crouched voluptuously before his work, 
and his heart beat quickly. Suddenly she looked up at him. 

"Why does it seem cruel?" she asked. 


"There seems a feeling of cruelty about it," she said. 

"It's jolly good, whether or not," he replied, folding up his 
work with a lover's hands. 

She rose slowly, pondering. 

"And what will you do with it?" she asked. 

"Send it to Liberty's. I did it for my mother, but I think 
she'd rather have the money." 

"Yes," said Miriam. He had spoken with a touch of bitter- 
ness, and Miriam sympathised. Money would have been 
nothing to her. 

He took the cloth back into the parlour. When he returned 
he threw to Miriam a smaller piece. It was a cushion-cover 
with the same design. 

"I did that for you," he said. 

She fingered the work with trembling hands, and did not 
speak. He became embarrassed. 

"By Jove, the bread ! " he cried. 

He took the top loaves out, tapped them vigorously. They 
were done. He put them on the hearth to cool. Then he went 
to the scullery, wetted his hands, scooped the last white dough 
out of the punchion, and dropped it in a baking-tin. Miriam 
was still bent over her painted cloth. He stood rubbing the bits 
of dough from his hands. 

"You do like it?" he asked. 

She looked up at him, with her dark eyes one flame of love. 
He laughed uncomfortably. Then he began to talk about the 
design. There was fc«- him the most intense pleasure in talking 
about his work to Miriam. All his passion, all his wild blood, 
went into this intercourse with her, when he talked and con- 
ceived his work. She brought forth to him his imaginations. 
She did not understand, any more than a woman understands 
when she conceives a child in her womb. But this was Hfe for 
her and for him. 

While they were talking, a young woman of about twenty- 
two, small and pale, hollow-eyed, yet with a relentless look 
about her, entered the room. She was a friend at the Morel's. 


"Take your things off," said Paul. 

"No, I'm not stopping." 

She sat down in the arm-chair opposite Paul and Miriam, 
who were on the sofa. Miriam moved a little farther from 
him. The room was hot, with a scent of new bread. Brown, 
crisp loaves stood on the hearth. 

"I shouldn't have expected to see you here to-night, Miriam 
Leivers," said Beatrice wickedly. 

"Why not?" murmured Miriam huskily. 

"Why, let's look at your shoes." 

Miriam remained uncomfortably still. 

"If tha doesna tha durs'na," laughed Beatrice. 

Miriam put her feet from under her dress. Her boots had 
that queer, irresolute, rather pathetic look about them, which 
showed how self-conscious and self-mistrustful she was. And 
they were covered with mud. 

"Glory! You're a positive muck-heap," exclaimed Beatrice. 
"Who cleans your boots?" 

"I clean them myself." 

"Then you wanted a job," said Beatrice. "It would ha' taken 
a lot of men to ha' brought me down here to-night. But love 
laughs at sludge, doesn't it, 'Postle my duck?" 

"Inter alia," he said. 

"Oh, Lord ! are you going to spout foreign languages ? What 
does it mean, Miriam?" 

There was a fine sarcasm in the last question, but Miriam 
did not see it. 

" 'Among other things,' I believe," she said humbly. 

Beatrice put her tongue between her teeth and laughed 

"'Among other things,' 'Postle?" she repeated. "Do you 
mean love laughs at mothers, and fathers, and sisters, and 
brothers, and men friends, and lady friends, and even at the 
b'loved himself?" 

She affected a great innocence. 

"In fact, it's one big smile," he replied. 

"Up its sleeve, 'Postle Morel — you believe me," she said; and 
she went off into another burst of wicked, silent laughter. 

Miriam sat silent, withdrawn into herself. Every one of 
Paul's friends delighted in taking sides against her, and he 
left her in the lurch — seemed almost to have a sort of revenge 
upon her then. 


"Are you still at school?" asked Miriam of Beatrice. 


"You've not had your notice, then?" 

"I expect it at Easter." 

"Isn't it an awful shame, to turn you off merely because you 
didn't pass the exam.?" 

"I don't know," said Beatrice coldly. 

"Agatha says you're as good as any teacher anywhere. It 
seems to me ridiculous. I wonder why you didn't pass." 

"Short of brains, eh, 'Postle?" said Beatrice briefly. 

"Only brains to bite with," replied Paul, laughing. 

"Nuisance!" she cried; and, springing from her seat, she 
rushed and boxed his ears. She had beautiful small hands. 
He held her wrists while she wrestled with him. At last she 
broke free, and seized two handfuls of his thick, dark brown 
hair, which she shook. 

"Beat!" he said, as he pulled his hair straight with his 
fingers. "I hate you!" 

She laughed with glee. 

"Mind!" she said. "I want to sit next to you." 

"I'd as lief be neighbours with a vixen," he said, neverthe- 
less making place for her between him and Miriam. 

"Did it ruffle his pretty hair, then!" she cried; and, with 
her hair-comb, she combed him straight. "And his nice little 
moustache!" she exclaimed. She tilted his head back and 
combed his young moustache. "It's a wicked moustache, 
'Postle," she said. "It's a red for danger. Have you got any 
of those cigarettes?" 

He pulled his cigarette-case from his pocket. Beatrice looked 
inside it. 

"And fancy me having Connie's last cig.," said Beatrice, put- 
ting the thing between her teeth. He held a lit match to her, 
and she puffed daintily. 

"Thanks so much, darling," she said mockingly. 

It gave her a wicked delight. 

"Don't you think he does it nicely, Miriam?" she asked. 

"Oh, very!" said Miriam. 

He took a cigarette for himself. 

"Light, old boy?" said Beatrice, tilting her cigarette at him. 

He bent forward to her to light his cigarette at hers. She was 
winking at him as he did so. Miriam saw his eyes trembling 
with mischief, and his full, almost sensual, mouth quivering. 


He was not himself, and she could not bear it. As he was 
now, she had no connection with him; she might as well not 
have existed. She saw the cigarette dancing on his full red 
lips. She hated his thick hair for being tumbled loose on his 

"Sweet boy!" said Beatrice, tipping up his chin and giving 
him a little kiss on the cheek. 

"1 s'll kiss thee back. Beat," he said. 

"Tha wunna!" she giggled, jumping up and going away. 
"Isn't he shameless, Miriam?" 

"Quite," said Miriam. "By the way, aren't you forgetting 
the bread?" 

"By Jove!" he cried, flinging open the oven door. 

Out puffed the bluish smoke and a smell of burned 

"Oh, golly!" cried Beatrice, coming to his side. He crouched 
before the oven, she peered over his shoulder. "This is what 
comes of the oblivion of love, my boy." 

Paul was ruefully removing the loaves. One was burnt black 
on the hot side; another was hard as a brick. 

"Poor mater!" said Paul. 

"You want to grate it," said Beatrice , "Fetch me the nutmeg- 

She arranged the bread in the oven. He brought the grater, 
and she grated the bread on to a newspaper on the table. He 
set the doors open to blow away the smell of burned bread. 
Beatrice grated away, puffing her cigarette, knocking the char- 
coal off the poor loaf. 

"My word, Miriam! you're in for it this time," said Beatrice. 

"I!" exclaimed Miriam in amazement. 

"You'd better be gone when his mother comes in. 7 know 
why King Alfred burned the cakes. Now I see it! 'Postle 
would fix up a tale about his work making him forget, if he 
thought it would wash. If that old woman had come in a bit 
sooner, she'd have boxed the brazen thing's ears who made 
the oblivion, instead of poor Alfred's." 

She giggled as she scraped the loaf. Even Miriam laughed in 
spite of herself. Paul mended the fire ruefully. 

The garden gate was heard to bang. 

"Quick!" cried Beatrice, giving Paul the scraped loaf. "Wrap 
it up in a damp towel." 

Paul disappeared into the scullery. Beatrice hastily blew her 


scrapings into the fire, and sat down innocently. Annie came 
bursting in. She was an abrupt, quite smart young woman. 
She blinked in the strong light. 

"Smell of burning ! " she exclaimed. 

"It's the cigarettes," replied Beatrice demurely. 

"Where's Paul?" 

Leonard had followed Annie. He had a long comic face and 
blue eyes, very sad. 

"I suppose he's left you to settle it between you," he said. 
He nodded sympathetically to Miriam, and became gently 
sarcastic to Beatrice. 

"No," said Beatrice, "he's gone off with number nine." 

"I just met number five inquiring for him," said Leonard. 

"Yes — we're going to share him up like Solomon's baby," 
said Beatrice. 

Annie laughed. 

"Oh, ay," said Leonard. "And which bit should you have?" 

"1 don't know," said Beatrice. "I'll let all the others pick 

"An' you'd have the leavings, like?" said Leonard, twisting 
up a comic face. 

Annie was looking in the oven. Miriam sat ignored. Paul 

"This bread's a fine sight, our Paul," said Annie. 

"Then you should stop an' look after it," said Paul. 

"You mean you should do what you're reckoning to do," 
replied Annie. 

"He should, shouldn't he!" cried Beatrice. 

"I s'd think he'd got plenty on hand," said Leonard. 

"You had a nasty walk, didn't you, Miriam?" said Annie. 

"Yes — but I'd been in all week " 

"And you wanted a bit of a change, like," insinuated Leonard 

"Well, you can't be stuck in the house for ever," Annie 
agreed. She was quite amiable. Beatrice pulled on her coat, 
and went out with Leonard and Annie. She would meet her 
own boy. 

"Don't forget that bread, our Paul," cried Annie. "Good- 
night, Miriam. I don't think it will rain." 

When they had all gone, Paul fetched the s-wathed loaf, un- 
wrapped it, and surveyed it sadly. 

"It's a mess!" he said. 


"But," answered Miriam impatiently, "what is it, after all — 
twopence ha'penny." 

"Yes, but — it's the mater's precious baking, and she'll take 
it to heart. However, it's no good bothering." 

He took the loaf back into the scullery. There was a little 
distance between him and Miriam. He stood balanced opposite 
her for some moments considering, thinking of his behaviour 
with Beatrice. He felt guilty inside himself, and yet glad. For 
some inscrutable reason it served Miriam right. He was not 
going to repent. She wondered what he was thinking of as he 
stood suspended. His thick hair was tumbled over his fore- 
head. Why might she not push it back for him, and remove 
the marks of Beatrice's comb? Why might she not press his 
body with her two hands. It looked so firm, and every whit 
living. And he would let other girls, why not her? 

Suddenly he started into life. It made her quiver almost 
with terror as he quickly pushed the hair off his forehead and 
came towards her. 

"Half-past eight!" he said. "We'd better buck up. Where's 
your French?" 

Miriam shyly and rather bitterly produced her exercise- 
book. Every week she wrote for him a sort of diary of her 
inner life, in her own French. He had found this was the only 
way to get her to do compositions. And her diary was mostly 
a love-letter. He would read it now; she felt as if her soul's 
history were going to be desecrated by him in his present 
mood. He sat beside her. She watched his hand, firm and 
warm, rigorously scoring her work. He was reading only the 
French, ignoring her soul that was there. But gradually his 
hand forgot its work. He read in silence, motionless. She 

" 'Ce matin les oiseaux m'ont eveille,' " he read. " 7/ faisait 
encore un crepuscule. Mais la petite fenetre de ma chambre 
etait bleme, et puis, jaune, et tous les oiseaux du hois eclaterent 
dans un chanson vif et resonnant. Toute I'aube tressaillit. 
J'avais reve de vous. Est-ce que vous voyez aussi I'aube? Les 
oiseaux m'eveillent presque tous les matins, et toujours il y a 
quelque chose de terreur dans le cri des grives. II est si 
clair ' " 

Miriam sat tremulous, half ashamed. He remained quite 
still, trying to understand. He only knew she loved him. He 
was afraid of her love for him. It was too good for him, and he 


was inadequate. His own love was at fault, not hers. Ashamed, 
he corrected her work, humbly writing above her words. 

"Look," he said quietly, "the past participle conjugated with 
avoir agrees with the direct object when it precedes." 

She bent forward, trying to see and to understand. Her free, 
fine curls tickled his face. He started as if they had been red 
hot, shuddering. He saw her peering forward at the page, her 
red lips parted piteously, the black hair springing in fine 
strands across her tawny, ruddy cheek. She was coloured 
like a pomegranate for richness. His breath came short as he 
watched her. Suddenly she looked up at him. Her dark eyes 
were naked with their love, afraid, and yearning. His eyes, 
too, were dark, and they hurt her. They seemed to master 
her. She lost all her self-control, was exposed in fear. And 
he knew, before he could kiss her, he must drive something 
out of himself. And a touch of hate for her crept back again 
into his heart. He returned to her exercise. 

Suddenly he flung down the pencil, and was at the oven in 
a leap, turning the bread. For Miriam he was too quick. She 
started violently, and it hurt her with real pain. Even the way 
he crouched before the oven hurt her. There seemed to be 
something cruel in it, something cruel in the swift way he 
pitched the bread out of the tins, caught it up again. If only 
he had been gentle in his movements she would have felt so 
rich and warm. As it was, she was hurt. 

He returned and finished the exercise. 

"You've done well this week," he said. 

She saw he was flattered by her diary. It did not repay her 

"You really do blossom out sometimes," he said. "You ought 
to write poetry." 

She lifted her head with joy, then she shook it mistrustfully. 

"I don't trust myself," she said. 

"You should try!" 

Again she shook her head. 

"Shall we read, or is it too late?" he asked. 

"It is late — but we can read just a little," she pleaded. 

She was really getting now the food for her life during the 
next week. He made her copy Baudelaire's "Le Balcon". Then 
he read it for her. His voice was soft and caressing, but grow- 
ing almost brutal. He had a way of lifting his lips and show- 
ing his teeth, passionately and bitterly, when he was much 


moved. This he did now. It made Miriam feel as if he were 
trampling on her. She dared not look at him, but sat with her 
head bowed. She could not understand why he got into such 
a tumult and fury. It made her wretched. She did not like 
Baudelaire, on the whole — nor Verlaine. 

"Behold her singing in the field 
Yon solitary highland lass." 

That nourished her heart. So did "Fair Ines". And — 

"It was a beauteous evening, calm and pure. 
And breathing holy quiet like a nun." 

These were like herself. And there was he, saying in his 
throat bitterly: 

"Tu te rappelleras la beaute des caresses." 

The poem was finished; he took the bread out of the oven, 
arranging the burnt loaves at the bottom of the panchion, the 
good ones at the top. The desiccated loaf remained swathed 
up in the scullery. 

"Mater needn't know till morning," he said. "It won't upset 
her so much then as at night." 

Miriam looked in the bookcase, saw what postcards and 
letters he had received, saw what books were there. She took 
one that had interested him. Then he turned down the gas and 
they set off. He did not trouble to lock the door. 

He was not home again until a quarter to eleven. His mother 
was seated in the rocking-chair. Annie, with a rope of hair 
hanging down her back, remained sitting on a low stool before 
the fire, her elbows on her knees, gloomily. On the table stood 
the offending loaf unswathed. Paul entered rather breathless. 
No one spoke. His mother was reading the little local news- 
paper. He took off his coat, and went to sit down on the sofa. 
His mother moved curtly aside to let him pass. No one spoke. 
He was very uncomfortable. For some minutes he sat pretend- 
ing to read a piece of paper he found on the table. Then 

"I forgot that bread, mother," he said. 

There was no answer from either woman. 

"Well," he said, "it's only twopence ha'penny. I can pay 
you for that." 


Being angry, he put three pennies on the table and slid them 
towards his mother. She turned away her head. Her mouth 
was shut tightly. 

"Yes," said Annie, "you don't know how badly my mother 

The girl sat staring glumly into the fire. 

"Why is she badly?" asked Paul, in his overbearing way. 

"Well!" said Annie. "She could scarcely get home." 

He looked closely at his mother. She looked ill. 

''Why could you scarcely get home?" he asked her, still 
sharply. She would not answer. 

"I found her as white as a sheet sitting here," said Annie, 
with a suggestion of tears in her voice. 

"Well, whyV insisted Paul. His brows were knitting, his 
eyes dilating passionately. 

"It was enough to upset anybody," said Mrs. Morel, "hug- 
ging those parcels — meat, and green-groceries, and a pair of 
curtains " 

"Well, why did you hug them; you needn't have done." 

"Then who would?" 

"Let Annie fetch the meat." 

"Yes, and I would fetch the meat, but how was I to know. 
You were off with Miriam, instead of being in when my mother 

"And what was the matter with you?" asked Paul of his 

"I suppose it's my heart," she repUed. Certainly she looked 
bluish round the mouth. 

"And have you felt it before?" 

"Yes — often enough." 

"Then why haven't you told me? — and why haven't you 
seen a doctor?" 

Mrs. Morel shifted in her chair, angry with him for his 

"You'd never notice anything," said Annie. "You're too 
eager to be off with Miriam." 

"Oh, am 1 — and any worse than you with Leonard?" 

"I was in at a quarter to ten." 

There was silence in the room for a time. 

"1 should have thought," said Mrs. Morel bitterly, "that she 
wouldn't have occupied you so entirely as to burn a whole 
ovenful of bread." 


"Beatrice was here as well as she." 

"Very likely. But we know why the bread is spoilt." 

"Why?" he flashed. 

"Because you were engrossed with Miriam/' replied Mrs. 
Morel hotly. 

"Oh, very well — then it was not I" he replied angrily. 

He was distressed and wretched. Seizing a paper, he began 
to read. Annie, her blouse unfastened, her long ropes of hair 
twisted into a plait, went up to bed, bidding him a very curt 

Paul sat pretending to read. He knew his mother wanted to 
upbraid him. He also wanted to know what had made her ill, 
for he was troubled. So, instead of running away to bed, as he 
would have liked to do, he sat and waited. There was a tense 
silence. The clock ticked loudly. 

"You'd better go to bed before your father comes in," sa^'^ 
the mother harshly. "And if you're going to have anything to 
eat, you'd better get it." 

"I don't want anything." 

It was his mother's custom to bring him some trifle for 
supper on Friday night, the night of luxury for the colliers. 
He was too angry to go and find it in the pantry this night. 
This insulted her. 

"If 1 wanted you to go to Selby on Friday night, I can 
imagine the scene," said Mrs. Morel. "But you're never too 
tired to go if she will come for you. Nay, you neither want to 
eat nor drink then." 

"I can't let her go alone." 

"Can't you? And why does she come?" 

"Not because I ask her." 

"She doesn't come without you want her " 

"Well, what if I do want her " he replied. 

"Why, nothing, if it was sensible or reasonable. But to go 
trapseing up there miles and miles in the mud, coming home at 
midnight, and got to go to Nottingham in the morning " 

"If I hadn't, you'd be just the same." 

"Yes, I should, because there's no sense in it. Is she so 
fascinating that you must follow her all that way?" Mrs. 
Morel was bitterly sarcastic. She sat still, with averted face, 
stroking with a rhythmic, jerked movement, the black sateen 
of her apron. It was a movement that hurt Paul to see. 

"I do like her," he said, "but " 


"Like her!" said Mrs. Morel, in the same biting tones. "It 
seems to me you like nothing and nobody else. There's neither 
Annie, nor me, nor anyone now for you." 

"What nonsense, mother — you know I don't love her — I — 
I tell you I don't love her — she doesn't even walk with my arm, 
because I don't want her to." 

"Then why do you fly to her so often?" 

"I do like to talk to her — 1 never said 1 didn't. But I don't 
love her." 

"Is there nobody else to talk to?" 

"Not about the things we talk of. There's a lot of things 
that you're not interested in, that " 

"Wxhat things?" 

Mrs. Morel was so intense that Paul began to pant. 

"Why — painting — and books. You don't care about Herbert 

"No," was the sad reply. "And you won't at my age." 

"Well, but I do now — and Miriam does " 

"And how do you know," Mrs. Morel flashed defiantly, "that 
/ shouldn't. Do you ever try me ! " 

"But you don't, mother, you know you don't care whether a 
picture's decorative or not; you don't care what manner it is in." 

"How do you know I don't care? Do you ever try me? Do 
you ever talk to me about these things, to try?" 

"But it's not that that matters to you, mother, you know 
t's not." 

"What is it, then — what is it, then, that matters to me?" 
she flashed. He knitted his brows v^th pain. 

"You're old, mother, and we're young." 

He only meant that the interests of her age were not the 
interests of his. But he realised the moment he had spoken 
that he had said the wrong thing. 

"Yes, I know it well — I am old. And therefore I may stand 
aside; I have nothing more to do with you. You only want me 
to wait on you — the rest is for Miriam." 

He could not bear it. Instinctively he realised that he was 
life to her. And, after all, she was the chief thing to him, the 
only supreme thing. 

"You know it isn't, mother, you know it isn't!" 

She was moved to pity by his cry. 

"It looks a great deal like it," she said, half putting aside 
her despair. 


"No, mother — I really don't love her. I talk to her, but I 
want to come home to you." 

He had taken off his collar and tie, and rose, bare-throated, 
to go to bed. As he stooped to kiss his mother, she threw her 
arms round his neck, hid her face on his shoulder, and cried, 
in a whimpering voice, so unlike her own that he writhed in 
agony : 

"I can't bear it. I could let another woman — ^but not her. 
She'd leave me no room, not a bit of room " 

And immediately he hated Miriam bitterly. 

"And I've never — you know, Paul — I've never had a husband 
— not really " 

He stroked his mother's hair, and his mouth was on her 

"And she exults so in taking you from me — she's not like 
ordinary girls." 

"Well, 1 don't love her, mother," he murmured, bowing his 
head and hiding his eyes on her shoulder in misery. His mother 
kissed him a long, fervent kiss. 

"My boy!" she said, in a voice trembling wdth passionate 

Without knowing, he gently stroked her face. 

"There," said his mother, "now go to bed. You'll be so tired 
in the morning." As she was speaking she heard her husband 
coming. "There's your father — now go." Suddenly she looked 
at him almost as if in fear. "Perhaps I'm selfish. If you want 
her, take her, my boy." 

His mother looked so strange, Paul kissed her, trembling. 

"Ha — mother!" he said softly. 

Morel came in, walking unevenly. His hat was over one 
corner of his eye. He balanced in the doorway. 

"At your mischief again?" he said venomously. 

Mrs. Morel's emotion turned into sudden hate of the 
drunkard who had come in thus upon her. 

"At any rate, it is sober," she said. 

"H'm — h'm! h'm — h'm!" he sneered. He went into the 
passage, hung up his hat and coat. Then they heard him go 
down three steps to the pantry. He returned with a piece of 
pork-pie in his fist. It was what Mrs. Morel had bought for 
her son. 

"Nor was that bought for you. If you can give me no more 
than twenty-five shillings, I'm sure I'm not going to buy you 


pork-pie to stuff, after you've swilled a bellyful of beer." 

"Wha-at — wha-at!" snarled Morel, toppling in his balance. 
"Wha-at — not for me?" He looked at the piece of meat and 
crust, and suddenly, in a vicious spurt of temper, flung it into 
the fire. 

Paul started to his feet. 

"Waste your own stuff!" he cried. 

"What — what!" suddenly shouted Morel, jumping up and 
clenching his fist. "I'll show yer, yer young jockey!" 

"All right!" said Paul viciously, putting his head on one 
side. "Show me!" 

He would at that moment dearly have loved to have a smack 
at something. Morel was half crouching, fists up, ready to 
spring. The young man stood, smiling with his lips. 

"Ussha!" hissed the father, swiping round with a great 
stroke just past his son's face. He dared not, even though 
so close, really touch the young man, but swerved an inch 

"Right!" said Paul, his eyes upon the side of his father's 
mouth, where in another instant his fist would have hit. He 
ached for that stroke. But he heard a faint moan from behind. 
His mother was deadly pale and dark at the mouth. Morel 
was dancing up to deliver another blow. 

"Father!" said Paul, so that the word rang. 

Morel started, and stood at attention. 

"Mother!" moaned the boy. "Mother!" 

She began to struggle with herself. Her open eyes watched 
him, although she could not move. Gradually she was coming 
to herself. He laid her down on the sofa, and ran upstairs for 
a little whisky, which at last she could sip. The tears were 
hopping down his face. As he kneeled in front of her he did 
not cry, but the tears ran down his face quickly. Morel, on 
the opposite side of the room, sat with his elbows on his knees 
glaring across. 

"What's a-matter with 'er?" he asked. 

"Faint!" replied Paul. 


The elderly man began to unlace his boots. He stumbled off 
to bed. His last fight was fought in that home. 

Paul kneeled there, stroking his mother's hand. 

"Don't be poorly, mother — don't be poorly!" he said time 
after time. 


"It's nothing, my boy," she murmured. 

At last he rose, fetched in a large piece of coal, and raked 
the fire. Then he cleared the room, put everything straight, 
laid the things for breakfast, and brought his mother's 

"Can you go to bed, mother?" 

"Yes, I'll come." 

"Sleep with Annie, mother, not with him." 

"No. I'll sleep in my own bed." 

"Don't sleep with him, mother." 

"I'll sleep in my own bed." 

She rose, and he turned out the gas, then followed her closely 
upstairs, carrying her candle. On the landing he kissed her 

"Good-night, mother." 

"Good-night!" she said. 

He pressed his face upon the pillow in a fury of misery. And 
yet, somewhere in his soul, he was at peace because he still 
loved his mother best. It was the bitter peace of resignation. 

The efforts of his father to conciliate him next day were a 
great humiliation to him. 

Everybody tried to forget the scene. 



Paul was dissatisfied with himself and with everything. The 
deepest of his love belonged to his mother. When he felt he 
had hurt her, or wounded his love for her, he could not bear 
it. Now it was spring, and there was battle between him and 
Miriam. This year he had a good deal against her. She was 
vaguely aware of it. The old feeling that she was to be a 
sacrifice to this love, which she had had when she prayed, was 
mingled in all her emotions. She did not at the bottom believe 
she ever would have him. She did not believe in herself 
primarily: doubted whether she could ever be what he would 
demand of her. Certainly she never saw herself living happily 
through a lifetime with him. She saw tragedy, sorrow, and 
sacrifice ahead. And in sacrifice she was proud, in renuncia- 
tion she was strong, for she did not trust herself to support 


everyday life. She was prepared for the big things and the 
deep things, like tragedy. It was the sufficiency of the small 
day-life she could not trust. 

The Easter holidays began happily. Paul was his own frank 
self. Yet she felt it would go wrong. On the Sunday after- 
noon she stood at her bedroom window, looking across at the 
oak-trees of the wood, in whose branches a twilight was 
tangled, below the bright sky of the afternoon. Grey-green 
rosettes of honeysuckle leaves hung before the window, some 
already, she fancied, showing bud. It was spring, which she 
loved and dreaded. 

Hearing the clack of the gate she stood in suspense. It was 
a bright grey day. Paul came into the yard with his bicycle, 
which glittered as he walked. Usually he rang his bell and 
laughed towards the house. To-day he walked with shut lips 
and cold, cruel bearing, that had something of a slouch and a 
sneer in it. She knew him well by now, and could tell from 
that keen-looking, aloof young body of his what was happen- 
ing inside him. There was a cold correctness in the way he 
put his bicycle in its place, that made her heart sink. 

She came downstairs nervously. She was wearing a new net 
blouse that she thought became her. It had a high collar with 
a tiny ruff, reminding her of Mary, Queen of Scots, and making 
her, she thought, look wonderfully a woman, and dignified. 
At twenty she was full-breasted and luxuriously formed. Her 
face was still like a soft rich mask, unchangeable. But her 
eyes, once lifted, were wonderful. She was afraid of him. He 
would notice her new blouse. 

He, being in a hard, ironical mood, was entertaining the 
family to a description of a service given in the Primitive 
Methodist Chapel, conducted by one of the well-known 
preachers of the sect. He sat at the head of the table, his 
mobile face, with the eyes that could be so beautiful, shining 
with tenderness Oi* dancing with laughter, now taking on one 
expression and then another, in imitation of various people he 
was mocking. His mockery always hurt her; it was too near 
the reality. He was too clever and cruel. She felt that when 
his eyes were like this, hard with mocking hate, he would 
spare neither himself nor anybody else. But Mrs. Leivers was 
wiping her eyes with laughter, and Mr. Leivers, just awake 
from his Sunday nap, was rubbing his head in amusement. 
The three brothers sat with ruffled, sleepy appearance in their 


shirt-sleeves, giving a guffaw from time to time. The whole 
family loved a "take-off" more than anything. 

He took no notice of Miriam. Later, she saw him remark 
her new blouse, saw that the artist approved, but it won from 
him not a spark of warmth. She was nervous, could hardly 
reach the teacups from the shelves. 

When the men went out to milk, she ventured to address 
him personally. 

"You were late," she said. 

"Was 1?" he answered. 

There was silence for a while. 

"Was it rough riding?" she asked. 

"1 didn't notice it." 

She continued quickly to lay the table. When she had 

"Tea won't be for a few minutes. Will you come and look 
at the daffodils?" she said. 

He rose without answering. They went out into the back 
garden under the budding damson-trees. The hills and the sky 
were clean and cold. Everything looked washed, rather hard. 
Miriam glanced at Paul. He was pale and impassive. It seemed 
cruel to her that his eyes and brows, which she loved, could 
look so hurting. 

"Has the wind made you tired?" she asked. She detected an 
underneath feeling of weariness about him. 

"No, I think not," he answered. 

"It must be rough on the road — the wood moans so." 

"You can see by the clouds it's a south-west wind; that helps 
me here." 

"You see, I don't cycle, so I don't understand," she 

"Is there need to cycle to know that!" he said. 

She thought his sarcasms were unnecessary. They went for- 
ward in silence. Round the wild, tussocky lawn at the back 
of the house was a thorn hedge, under which daffodils were 
craning forward from among their sheaves of grey-green 
blades. The cheeks of the flowers were greenish with cold. 
But still some had burst, and their gold ruffled and glowed. 
Miriam went on her knees before one cluster, took a wild- 
looking daffodil between her hands, turned up its face of gold 
to her, and bowed down, caressing it with her mouth and 
cheeks and brow. He stood aside, with his hands in his 


pockets, watching her. One after another she turned up to 
him the faces of the yellow, bursten flowers appealingly, 
fondling them lavishly all the while. 

"Aren't they magnificent?" she murmured. 

"Magnificent! It's a bit thick — they're pretty!" 

She bowed again to her flowers at his censure of her praise. 
He watched her crouching, sipping the flowers with fervid 

"Why must you always be fondling things?" he said 

"But 1 love to touch them," she replied, hurt. 

"Can you never like things without clutching them as if you 
wanted to pull the heart out of them ? Why don't you have a 
bit more restraint, or reserve, or something?" 

She looked up at him full of pain, then continued slowly to 
stroke her lips against a ruffled flower. Their scent, as she 
smelled it, was so much kinder than he; it almost made her 

"You wheedle the soul out of things," he said. "1 would 
never wheedle — at any rate, I'd go straight." 

He scarcely knew what he was saying. These things came 
from him mechanically. She looked at him. His body seemed 
one weapon, firm and hard against her. 

"You're always begging things to love you," he said, "as if 
you were a beggar for love. Even the flowers, you have to 
fawn on them " 

Rhythmically, Miriam was swaying and stroking the flower 
with her mouth, inhaling the scent which ever after made her 
shudder as it came to her nostrils. 

"You don't want to love — your eternal and abnormal craving 
is to be loved. You aren't positive, you're negative. You absorb, 
absorb, as if you must fill yourself up with love, because you've 
got a shortage somewhere." 

She was stunned by his cruelty, and did not hear. He had 
not the faintest notion of what he was saying. It was as if his 
fretted, tortured soul, run hot by thwarted passion, jetted off 
these sayings like sparks from electricity. She did not grasp 
anything he said. She only sat crouched beneath his cruelty 
and his hatred of her. She never realised in a flash. Over every- 
thing she brooded and brooded. 

After tea he stayed with Edgar and the brothers, taking no 
notice of Miriam. She, extremely unhappy on this looked-for 


holiday, waited for him. And at last he yielded and came to 
her. She was determined to track this mood of his to its origin. 
She counted it not much more than a mood. 

"Shall we go through the wood a little way?" she asked 
him, knowing he never refused a direct request. 

They went down to the warren. On the middle path they 
passed a trap, a narrow horseshoe hedge of small fir-boughs, 
baited with the guts of a rabbit. Paul glanced at it frowning. 
She caught his eye. 

"Isn't it dreadful?" she asked. 

"I don't know! Is it worse than a weasel with its teeth in 
a rabbit's throat? One weasel or many rabbits? One or the 
other must go!" 

He was taking the bitterness of life badly. She was rather 
sorry for him. 

"We will go back to the house," he said. "I don't want to 
walk out." 

They went past the lilac-tree, whose bronze leaf-buds were 
coming unfastened. Just a fragment remained of the haystack, 
a monument squared and brown, like a pillar of stone. There 
was a little bed of hay from the last cutting. 

"Let us sit here a minute," said Miriam. 

He sat down against his will, resting his back against the 
hard wall of hay. They faced the amphitheatre of round hills 
that glowed with sunset, tiny white farms standing out, the 
meadows golden, the woods dark and yet luminous, tree-tops 
folded over tree-tops, distinct in the distance. The evening 
had cleared, and the east was tender with a magenta flush 
under which the land lay still and rich. 

"Isn't it beautiful?" she pleaded. 

But he only scowled. He would rather have had it ugly just 

At that moment a big bull-terrier came rushing up, open- 
mouthed, pranced his two paws on the youth's shoulders, lick- 
ing his face. Paul drew back, laughing. Bill was a great relief 
to him. He pushed the dog aside, but it came leaping back. 

"Get out," said the lad, "or I'll dot thee one." 

But the dog was not to be pushed away. So Paul had a little 
battle vnth the creature, pitching poor Bill away from him, 
who, however, only floundered tumultously back again, wild 
with joy. The two fought together, the man laughing grudg- 
ingly, the dog grinning all over. Miriam watched them. There 


wps something pathetic about the man. He wanted so badly to 
love, to be tender. The rough way he bowled the dog over was 
really loving. Bill got up, panting with happiness, his brown 
eyes rolling in his white face, and lumbered back again. He 
adored Paul. The lad frowned. 

"Bill, I've had enough o' thee," he said. 

But the dog only stood with two heavy paws, that quivered 
with love, upon his thigh, and flickered a red tongue at him. 
He drew back. 

"No," he said — "no — I've had enough." 

And in a minute the dog trotted off happily, to vary the fun. 

He remained staring miserably across at the hills, whose still 
beauty he begrudged. He wanted to go and cycle with Edgar. 
Yet he had not the courage to leave Miriam. 

"Why are you sad?" she asked humbly. 

"I'm not sad; why should 1 be," he answered. "I'm only 

She wondered why he always claimed to be normal when he 
was disagreeable. 

"But what is the matter?" she pleaded, coaxing him 


"Nay!" she murmured. 

He picked up a stick and began to stab the earth with it. 

"You'd far better not talk," he said. 

"But I wish to know " she replied. 

He laughed resentfully. 

"You always do," he said. 

"It's not fair to me," she murmured. 

He thrust, thrust, thrust at the ground with the pointed stick, 
digging up little clods of earth as if he were in a fever of irrita- 
tion. She gently and firmly laid her hand on his wrist. 

"Don't!" she said. "Put it away." 

He flung the stick into the currant-bushes, and leaned back. 
Now he was bottled up. 

"What is it?" she pleaded softly. 

He lay perfectly still, only his eyes alive, and they full of 

"You know," he said at length, rather wearily — "you know 
— we'd better break off." 

It was what she dreaded. Swiftly everything seemed to 
darken before her eyes. 


"Why!" she murmured. "What has happened?" 

"Nothing has happened. We only reaUse where we are. It's 
no good " 

She waited in silence, sadly, patiently. It was no good being 
impatient with him. At any rate, he would tell her now what 
ailed him. 

"We agreed on friendship," he went on in a dull, monotonous 
voice. "How often have we agreed for friendship ! And yet — 
it neither stops there, nor gets anywhere else." 

He was silent again. She brooded. What did he mean? He 
was so wearying. There was something he would not yield. 
Yet she must be patient with him. 

"I can only give friendship — it's all I'm capable of — it's a 
flaw in my make-up. The thing overbalances to one side — I 
hate a toppling balance. Let us have done." 

There was warmth of fury in his last phrases. He meant she 
loved him more than he her. Perhaps he could not love her. 
Perhaps she had not in herself that which he wanted. It was 
the deepest motive of her soul, this self -mistrust. It was so deep 
she dared neither realise nor acknowledge. Perhaps she was 
deficient. Like an infinitely subtle shame, it kept her always 
back. If it were so, she would do without him. She would 
never let herself want him. She would merely see. 

"But what has happened?" she said. 

"Nothing — it's all in myself — it only comes out just now. 
We're always like this towards Easter-time." 

He grovelled so helplessly, she pitied him. At least she never 
floundered in such a pitiable way. After all, it was he who was 
chiefly humiliated. 

"What do you want?" she asked him. 

"Why — I mustn't come often — that's all. Why should I 

monopolise you when I'm not You see, I'm deficient in 

something with regard to you " 

He was telling her he did not love her, and so ought to leave 
her a chance with another man. How foolish and blind and 
shamefully clumsy he was! What were other men to her! 
What were men to her at all! But he, ah! she loved his soul. 
Was he deficient in something? Perhaps he was. 

"But I don't understand," she said huskily. "Yesterday " 

The night was turning jangled and hateful to him as the 
twilight faded. And she bowed under her suffering. 

"I know," he cried, "you never will! You'll never believe 


that I can't — can't physically, any more than I can fly up like 
a skylark " 

"What?" she murmured. Now she dreaded. 

"Love you." 

He hated her bitterly at that moment because he made her 
suffer. Love her! She knew^ he loved her. He really belonged 
to her. This about not loving her, physically, bodily, was a 
mere perversity on his part, because he knew she loved him. He 
was stupid like a child. He belonged to her. His soul wanted 
her. She guessed somebody had been influencing him. She felt 
upon him the hardness, the foreignness of another influence. 

"What have they been saying at home?" she asked. 

"It's not that," he answered. 

And then she knew it was. She despised them for their com- 
monness, his people. They did not know what things were 
really worth. 

He and she talked very little more that night. After all he 
left her to cycle with Edgar. 

He had come back to his mother. Hers was the strongest tie 
in his life. When he thought round, Miriam shrank away. 
There was a vague, unreal feel about her. And nobody else 
mattered. There was one place in the world that stood solid 
and did not melt into unreality: the place where his mother 
was. Everybody else could grow shadowy, almost non-existent 
to him, but she could not. It was as if the pivot and pole of 
his life, from which he could not escape, was his mother. 

And in the same way she waited for him. In him was 
established her life now. After all, the life beyond offered very 
little to Mrs. Morel. She saw that our chance for doing is here, 
and doing counted with her. Paul was going to prove that she 
had been right; he was going to make a man whom nothing 
should shift off his feet; he was going to alter the face of the 
earth in some way which mattered. Wherever he went she felt 
her soul went with him. Whatever he did she felt her soul 
stood by him, ready, as it were, to hand him his tools. She 
could not bear it when he was v^th Miriam. William was dead. 
She would fight to keep Paul. 

And he came back to her. And in his soul was a feeling of 
the satisfaction of self-sacrifice because he was faithful to her. 
She loved him first; he loved her first. And yet it was not 
enough. His new young life, so strong and imperious, was 
urged towards something else It made him mad with rest- 


lessness. She saw this, and wished bitterly that Miriam had 
been a woman who could take this new life of his, and leave 
her the roots. He fought against his mother almost as he 
fought against Miriam. 

It was a week before he went again to Willey Farm. Miriam 
had suffered a great deal, and was afraid to see him again. Was 
she now to endure the ignominy of his abandoning her? That 
would only be superficial and temporary. He would come 
back. She held the keys to his soul. But meanwhile, how he 
would torture her with his battle against her. She shrank 
from it. 

However, the Sunday after Easter he came to tea. Mrs. 
Leivers was glad to see him. She gathered something was fret- 
ting him, that he found things hard. He seemed to drift to 
her for comfort. And she was good to him. She did him that 
great kindness of treating him almost with reverence. 

He met her with the young children in the front garden. 

"I'm glad you've come," said the mother, looking at him 
with her great appealing brown eyes. "It is such a sunny day. 
I was just going down the fields for the first time this year." 

He felt she would like him to come. That soothed him. 
They went, talking simply, he gentle and humble. He could 
have wept witH gratitude that she was deferential to him. He 
was feeling humiliated. 

At the bottom of the Mow Close they found a thrush's nest. 

"Shall I show you the eggs?" he said. 

"Do!" replied Mrs. Leivers. "They seem such a sign of 
spring, and so hopeful." 

He put aside the thorns, and took out the eggs, holding them 
in the palm of his hand. 

"They are quite hot — I think we frightened her off them/' 
he said. 

"Ay, poor thing!" said Mrs. Leivers. 

Miriam could not help touching the eggs, and his hand 
which, it seemed to her, cradled them so well. 

"Isn't it a strange warmth!" she murmured, to get near him. 

"BJoo d heat," he answered. 

She watched him putting them back, his body pressed against 
the hedge, his arm reaching slowly through the thorns, his 
hand folded carefully over the eggs. He was concentrated on 
the act. Seeing him so, she loved him; he seemed so simple and 
sufficient to himself. And she could not get to him. 


After tea she stood hesitating at the bookshelf. He took 
"Tartarin de Tarascon". Again they sat on the bank of hay at 
the foot of the stack. He read a couple of pages, but without 
any heart for it. Again the dog came racing up to repeat the 
fun of the other day. He shoved his muzzle in the man's chest. 
Paul fingered his ear for a moment. Then he pushed him away. 

"Go away. Bill," he said. "I don't want you." 

Bill slunk off, and Miriam wondered and dreaded what was 
coming. There was a silence about the youth that made her 
still with apprehension. It was not his furies, but his quiet 
resolutions that she feared. 

Turning his face a little to one side, so that she could not 
see him, he began, speaking slowly and painfully : 

"Do you think — if 1 didn't come up so much — you might get 
to like somebody else — another man?" 

So this was what he was still harping on. 

"But I don't know any other men. Why do you ask?" she 
replied, in a low tone that should have been a reproach to him. 

"Why," he blurted, "because they say I've no right to come 
up like this — without we mean to marry " 

Miriam was indignant at anybody's forcing the issues 
between them. She had been furious with her own father 
for suggesting to Paul, laughingly, that he knew why he came 
so much. 

"Who says?" she asked, wondering if her people had any- 
thing to do with it. They had not. 

"Mother — and the others. They say at this rate everybody 
will consider me engaged, and I ought to consider myself so, 
because it's not fair to you. And I've tried to find out — and I 
don't think I love you as a man ought to love his wife. What 
do you think about it?" 

Miriam bowed her head moodily. She was angry at having 
this struggle. People should leave him and her alone. 

"I don't know," she murmured. 

"Do you think we love each other enough to marry?" he 
asked definitely. It made her tremble. 

"No," she answered truthfully. "I don't think so — we're too 

"I thought perhaps," he went on miserably, "that you, with 
your intensity in things, might have given me more — than I 
could ever make up to you. And even now — if you think it 
better — we'll be engaged." 


Now Miriam wanted to cry. And she was angry, too. He 
was always such a child for people to do as they liked with. 

"No, 1 don't think so/' she said firmly. 

He pondered a minute. 

"You see," he said, "with me — I don't think one person 
would ever monopolize me — be everything to me — I think 

This she did not consider. 

"No," she murmured. Then, after a pause, she looked at him, 
and her dark eyes flashed. 

"This is your mother," she said. "1 know she never liked me." 

"No, no, it isn't," he said hastily. "It was for your sake she 
spoke this time. She only said, if I was going on, I ought to 
consider myself engaged." There was a silence. "And if I 
ask you to come down any time, you won't stop away, will 

She did not answer. By this time she was very angry. 

"Well, what shall we do?" she said shortly. "I suppose I'd 
better drop French. 1 was just beginning to get on with it. But 
I suppose I can go on alone." 

"1 don't see that we need," he said. "1 can give you a French 
lesson, surely." 

"Well — and there are Sunday nights. 1 shan't stop coming 
to chapel, because I enjoy it, and it's all the social life I get. 
But you've no need to come home with me. I can go alone." 

"All right," he answered, rather taken aback. "But if 1 
ask Edgar, he'll always come with us, and then they can say 

There was silence. After all, then, she would not lose much. 
For all their talk down at his home there would not be much 
difference. She wished they would mind their own business. 

"And you won't think about it, and let it trouble you, will 
you?" he asked. 

"Oh no," replied Miriam, without looking at him. 

He was silent. She thought him unstable. He had no fixity 
of purpose, no anchor of righteousness that held him. 

"Because," he continued, "a man gets across his bicycle — 
and goes to work — and does all sorts of things. But a woman 

"No, I shan't bother," said Miriam. And she meant it. 

It had gone rather chilly. They went indoors. 

"How white Paul looks ! " Mrs. Leivers exclaimed. "Miriam, 


you shouldn't have let him sit out of doors. Do you think 
you've taken cold, Paul?" 

"Oh, no!" he laughed. 

But he felt done up. It wore him out, the conflict m himself. 
Miriam pitied him now. But quite early, before nine o'clock, 
he rose to go. 

"You're not going home, are you?" asked Mrs. Leivers 

"Yes," he replied. "1 said I'd be early." He was very 

"But this is early," said Mrs. Leivers. 

Miriam sat in the rocking-chair, and did not speak. He 
hesitated, expecting her to rise and go with him to the barn as 
usual for his bicycle. She remained as she was. He was at a 

"Well— good-night, all ! " he faltered. 

She spoke her good-night along with all the others. But as 
he went past the window he looked in. She saw him pale, his 
brows knit slightly in a way that had become constant with 
him, his eyes dark with pain. 

She rose and went to the doorway to wave good-bye to him 
as he passed through the gate. He rode slowly under the pine- 
trees, feeling a cur and a miserable wretch. His bicycle went 
tilting down the hills at random. He thought it would be a 
relief to break one's neck. 

Two days later he sent her up a book and a little note, urging 
her to read and be busy. 

At this time he gave all his friendship to Edgar. He loved 
the family so much, he loved the farm so much; it was the 
dearest place on earth to him. His home was not so lovable. 
It was his mother. But then he would have been just as happy 
with his mother anywhere. Whereas Willey Farm he loved 
passionately. He loved the little pokey kitchen, where men's 
boots tramped, and the dog slept with one eye open for fear 
of being trodden on; where the lamp hung over the table at 
night, and everything was so silent. He loved Miriam's long, 
low parlour, with its atmosphere of romance, its flowers, its 
books, its high rosewood piano. He loved the gardens and the 
buildings that stood with their scarlet roofs on the naked edges 
of the fields, crept towards the wood as if for cosiness, the wild 
country scooping down a valley and up the uncultured hills of 
the other side. Only to be there was an exhilaration and a 


joy to him. He loved Mrs. Leivers, with her unworldliness and 
her quaint cynicism; he loved Mr. Leivers, so v^arm and young 
and lovable; he loved Edgar, w^ho lit up when he came, and 
the boys and the children and Bill — even the sow Circe and the 
Indian game-cock called Tippoo. All this besides Miriam. He 
could not give it up. 

So he went as often, but he was usually with Edgar. Only all 
the family, including the father, joined in charades and games 
at evening. And later, Miriam drew them together, and they 
read "Macbeth" out of penny books, taking parts. It was great 
excitement. Miriam was glad, and Mrs. Leivers was glad, and 
Mr. Leivers enjoyed it. Then they all learned songs together 
from tonic sol-fa, singing in a circle round the fire. But now 
Paul was very rarely alone with Miriam. She waited. When 
she and Edgar and he walked home together from chapel or 
from the literary society in Bestwood, she knew his talk, so 
passionate and so unorthodox nowadays, was for her. She did 
envy Edgar, however, his cycling with Paul, his Friday nights, 
his days working in the fields. For her Friday nights and her 
French lessons were gone. She was nearly always alone, walk- 
ing, pondering in the wood, reading, studying, dreaming, wait- 
ing. And he wrote to her frequently. 

One Sunday evening they attained to their old rare harmony. 
Edgar had stayed to Communion — he wondered what it was 
like — with Mrs. Morel. So Paul came on alone with Miriam 
to his home. He was more or less under her spell again. As 
usual, they were discussing the sermon. He was setting now 
full sail towards Agnosticism, but such a religious Agnosticism 
that Miriam did not suffer so badly. They were at the Renan 
"Vie de Jesus" stage. Miriam was the threshing-floor on which 
he threshed out all his beliefs. While he trampled his ideas 
upon her soul, the truth came out for him. She alone was his 
threshing-floor. She alone helped him towards reahzation. 
Almost impassive, she submitted to his argument and expound- 
ing. And somehow, because of her, he gradually realized where 
he was wrong. And what he realized, she realized. She felt he 
could not do without her. 

They came to the silent house. He took the key out of the 
scullery window, and they entered. All the time he went on 
with his discussion. He lit the gas, mended the fire, and brought 
her some cakes from the pantry. She sat on the sofa, quietly, 
with a plate on her knee. She wore a large white hat with 


some pinkish flowers. It was a cheap hat, but he liked it. Her 
face beneath was still and pensive, golden-brown and ruddy. 
Always her ears were hid in her short curls. She watched him. 

She liked him on Sundays. Then he wore a dark suit that 
showed the lithe movement of his body. There was a clean, 
clear-cut look about him. He went on with his thinking to her. 
Suddenly he reached for a Bible. Miriam liked the way he 
reached up — so sharp, straight to the mark. He turned the 
pages quickly, and read her a chapter of St. John. As he sat 
in the arm-chair reading, intent, his voice only thinking, she 
felt as if he were using her unconsciously as a man uses his 
tools at some work he is bent on. She loved it. And the wist- 
fulness of his voice was like a reaching to something, and it 
was as if she were what he reached with. She sat back on the 
sofa away from him, and yet feeling herself the very instru- 
ment his hand grasped. It gave her great pleasure. 

Then he began to falter and to get self-conscious. And when 
he came to the verse, "A woman, when she is in travail, hath 
sorrow because her hour is come", he missed it out. Miriam 
had felt him growing uncomfortable. She shrank when the 
well-known words did not follow. He went on reading, but 
she did not hear. A grief and shame made her bend her head. 
Six months ago he would have read it simply. Now there was 
a scotch in his running with her. Now she felt there was really 
something hostile between them, something of which they 
were ashamed. 

She ate her cake mechanically. He tried to go on with his 
argument, but could not get back the right note. Soon Edgar 
came in. Mrs. Morel had gone to her friends'. The three set 
off to Willey Farm. 

Miriam brooded over his split with her. There was some- 
thing else he wanted. He could not be satisfied; he could give 
her no peace. There was between them now always a ground 
for strife. She wanted to prove him. She believed that his 
chief need in life was herself. If she could prove it, both to 
herself and to him, the rest might go; she could simply trust 
to the future. 

So in May she asked him to come to Willey Farm and meet 
Mrs. Dawes. There was something he hankered after. She saw 
him, whenever they spojce of Clara Dawes, rouse and get 
slightly angry. He said he did not like her. Yet he was keen 
to know about her. Well, he should put himself to the test. 


She believed that there were in him desires for higher things, 
and desires for lower, and that the desire for the higher would 
conquer. At any rate, he should try. She foi:got that her 
"higher" and "lower" were arbitrary. 

He was rather excited at the idea of meeting Clara at Willey 
Farm. Mrs. Dawes came for the day. Her heavy, dun-coloured 
hair was coiled on top of her head. She wore a white blouse 
and navy skirt, and somehow, wherever she was, seemed to 
make things look paltry and insignificant. When she was in 
the room, the kitchen seemed too small and mean altogether. 
Miriam's beautiful twilighty parlour looked stiff and stupid. 
All the Leivers were eclipsed like candles. They found her 
rather hard to put up with. Yet she was perfectly amiable, 
but indifferent, and rather hard. 

Paul did not come till afternoon. He was early. As he swung 
off his bicycle, Miriam saw him look round at the house 
eagerly. He would be disappointed if the visitor had not come. 
Miriam went out to meet him, bowing her head because of 
the sunshine. Nasturtiums were coming out crimson under 
the cool green shadow of their leaves. The girl stood, dark- 
haired, glad to see him. 

"Hasn't Clara come?" he asked. 

"Yes," replied Miriam in her musical tone. "She's reading." 

He wheeled his bicycle into the barn. He had put on a hand- 
some tie, of which he was rather proud, and socks to match. 

"She came this morning?" he asked. 

"Yes," replied Miriam, as she walked at his side. "You said 
you'd bring me that letter from the man at Liberty's. Have 
you remembered?" 

"Oh, dash, no!" he said. "But nag at me till you get it." 

"I don't like to nag at you." 

"Do it whether or not. And is she any more agreeable?" he 

"You know I always think she is quite agreeable." 

He was silent. Evidently his eagerness to be early to-day had 
been the newcomer. Miriam already began to suffer. They 
went together towards the house. He took the clips off his 
trousers, but was too lazy to brush the dust from his shoes, in 
spite of the socks and tie. 

Clara sat in the cool parlour reading. He saw the nape of 
her white neck, and the fine hair lifted from it. She rose, look- 
ing at him indifferently. To shake hands she lifted her arm 


Straight, in a manner that seemed at once to keep him at a 
distance, and yet to fling something to him. He noticed how 
her breasts swelled inside her blouse, and how her shoulder 
curved handsomely under the thin muslin at the top of her 

"You have chosen a fine day," he said. 

"It happens so," she said. 

"Yes," he said; "I am glad." 

She sat down, not thanking him for his politeness. 

"What have you been doing all morning?" asked Paul of 

"Well, you see," said Miriam, coughing huskily, "Clara only 
came with father — and so — she's not been here very long." 

Clara sat leaning on the table, holding aloof. He noticed 
her hands were large, but well kept. And the skin on them 
seemed almost coarse, opaque, and white, with fine golden 
hairs. She did not mind if he observed her hands. She intended 
to scorn him. Her heavy arm lay negligently on the table. 
Her mouth was closed as if she were offended, and she kept 
her face slightly averted. 

"You were at Margaret Bonford's meeting the other evening," 
he said to her. 

Miriam did not know this courteous Paul. Clara glanced 
at him. 

"Yes," she said. 

"Why," asked Miriam, "how do you know?" 

"I went in for a few minutes before the train came," he 

Clara turned away again rather disdainfully. 

"I think she's a lovable little woman," said Paul. 

"Margaret Bonford!" exclaimed Clara. "She's a great deal 
cleverer than most men." 

"Well, I didn't say she wasn't," he said, deprecating. "She's 
lovable for all that." 

"And, of course, that is all that matters," said Clara 

He rubbed his head, rather perplexed, rather annoyed. 

"I suppose it matters more than her cleverness," he said; 
"which, after all, would never get her to heaven." 

"It's not heaven she wants to get — it's her fair share on 
earth," retorted Clara. She spoke as if he were responsible 
for some deprivation which Miss Bonford suffered. 


"Well," he said, "I thought she was warm, and awfully 
nice — only too frail. 1 wished she was sitting comfortably in 
peace " 

" 'Darning her husband's stockings,' " said Clara scathingly. 

"I'm sure she wouldn't mind darning even my stockings," he 
said. "And I'm sure she'd do them well. Just as 1 wouldn't 
mind blacking her boots if she wanted me to." 

But Clara refused to answer this sally of his. He talked to 
Miriam for a little while. The other woman held aloof. 

"Well," he said, "I think I'll go and see Edgar. Is he on the 

"I believe," said Miriam, "he's gone for a load of coal. He 
should be back directly." 

"Then," he said, "I'll go and meet him." 

Miriam dared not propose anything for the three of them. 
He rose and left them. 

On the top road, where the gorse was out, he saw Edgar 
walking lazily beside the mare, who nodded her white-starred 
forehead as she dragged the clanking load of coal. The young 
farmer's face lighted up as he saw his friend. Edgar was 
good-looking, with dark, warm eyes. His clothes were old 
and rather disreputable, and he walked with considerable 

"Hello!" he said, seeing Paul bareheaded. "Where are you 

"Came to meet you. Can't stand 'Nevermore'." 

Edgar's teeth flashed in a laugh of amusement. 

"Who is 'Nevermore'?" he asked. 

"The lady — Mrs. Dawes — it ought to be Mrs. The Raven 
that quothed 'Nevermore'." 

Edgar laughed with glee. 

"Don't you like her?" he asked. 

"Not a fat lot," said Paul. "Why, do you?" 

"No!" The answer came with a deep ring of conviction. 
"No!" Edgar pursed up his lips. "I can't say she's much in 
my line." He mused a little. Then : "But why do you call 
her 'Nevermore'?" he asked. 

"Well," said Paul, "if she looks at a man she says haughtily 
'Nevermore', and if she looks at herself in the looking-glass 
she says disdainfully 'Nevermore', and if she thinks back 
she says it in disgust, and if she looks forward she says it 


Edgar considered this speech, failed to make much out of it, 
and said, laughing: 

"You think she's a man-hater?" 

"She thinks she is," replied Paul. 

"But you don't think so?" 

"No/' replied Paul. 

"Wasn't she nice with you, then?" 

"Could you imagine her nice with anybody?" asked the 
young man. 

Edgar laughed. Together they unloaded the coal in the yard. 
Paul was rather self-conscious, because he knew Clara could 
see if she looked out of the window. She didn't look. 

On Saturday afternoons the horses were brushed down and 
groomed. Paul and Edgar worked together, sneezing with the 
dust that came from the pelts of Jimmy and Flower. 

"Do you know a new song to teach me?" said Edgar. 

He continued to work all the time. The back of his neck 
was sun-red when he bent down, and his fingers that held the 
brush were thick. Paul watched him sometimes. 

" 'Mary Morrison'?" suggested the younger. 

Edgar agreed. He had a good tenor voice, and he loved to 
learn all the songs his friend could teach him, so that he could 
sing whilst he was carting. Paul had a very indifferent baritone 
voice, but a good ear. However, he sang softly, for fear of 
Clara. Edgar repeated the line in a clear tenor. At times they 
both broke off to sneeze, and first one, then the other, abused 
his horse. 

Miriam was impatient of men. It took so little to amuse 
them — even Paul. She thought it anomalous in him that he 
could be so thoroughly absorbed in a triviality. 

It was tea-time when they had finished. 

"What song was that?" asked Miriam. 

Edgar told her. The conversation turned to singing. 

"We have such jolly times," Miriam said to Clara. 

Mrs. Dawes ate her meal in a slow, dignified way. Whenever 
the men were present she grew distant. 

"Do you like singing?" Miriam asked her. 

"If it is good," she said. 

Paul, of course, coloured. 

"You mean if it is high-class and trained?" he said. 

"I think a voice needs training before the singing is any- 
thing," she said. 


"You might as well insist on having people's voices trained 
before you allowed them to talk," he replied. "Really, people 
sing for their own pleasure, as a rule." 

"And it may be for other people's discomfort." 

"Then the other people should have flaps to their ears," he 

The boys laughed. There was a silence. He flushed deeply, 
and ate in silence. 

After tea, when all the men had gone but Paul, Mrs. Lei vers 
said to Clara : 

"And you find life happier now?" 


"And you are satisfied?" 

"So long as I can be free and independent." 

"And you don't miss anything in your life?" asked Mrs. 
Leivers gently. 

"I've put all that behind me." 

Paul had been feeling uncomfortable during this discourse. 
He got up. 

"You'll find you're always tumbling over the things you've 
put behind you," he said. Then he took his departure to the 
cow-sheds. He felt he had been witty, and his manly pride 
was high. He whistled as he went down the brick track. 

Miriam came for him a little later to know if he would go 
with Clara and her for a walk. They set off down to Strelley 
Mill Farm. As they were going beside the brook, on the Willey 
Water side, looking through the brake at the edge of the wood, 
where pink campions glowed under a few sunbeams, they 
saw, beyond the tree-trunks and the thin hazel bushes, a man 
leading a great bay horse through the gullies. The big red 
beast seemed to dance romantically through that dimness of 
green hazel drift, away there where the air was shadowy, as 
if it were in the past, among the fading bluebells that might 
have bloomed for Deidre or Iseult. 

The three stood charmed. 

"What a treat to be a knight," he said, "and to have a 
pavilion here." 

"And to have us shut up safely?" replied Clara. 

"Yes," he answered, "singing with your maids at your 
broidery. 1 would carry your banner of white and green and 
heliotrope. I would have 'W.S.P.U.' emblazoned on my shield, 
beneath a woman rampant." 


"I have no doubt," said Clara, "that you would much rather 
fight for a woman than let her fight for herself." 

"I would. When she fights for herself she seems like a 
dog before a looking-glass, gone into a mad fury with its 
own shadow." 

"And you are the looking-glass?" she asked, with a curl of 
the lip. 

"Or the shadow," he replied. 

"1 am afraid," she said, "that you are too clever." 

"Well, 1 leave it to you to be good," he retorted, laughing. 
"Be good, sweet maid, and just let me be clever." 

But Clara wearied of his flippancy. Suddenly, looking at 
her, he saw that the upward lifting of her face was misery and 
not scorn. His heart grew tender for everybody. He turned 
and was gentle with Miriam, whom he had neglected till 

At the wood's edge they met Limb, a thin, swarthy man of 
forty, tenant of Strelley Mill, which he ran as a cattle-raising 
farm. He held the halter of the powerful stallion indifferently, 
as if he were tired. The three stood to let him pass over the 
stepping-stones of the first brook. Paul admired that so large 
an animal should walk on such springy toes, with an endless 
excess of vigour. Limb pulled up before them. 

"Tell your father. Miss Lei vers," he said, in a peculiar piping 
voice, "that his young beas'es 'as broke that bottom fence 
three days an' runnin'." 

"Which?" asked Miriam, tremulous. 

The great horse breathed heavily, shifting round its red 
flanks, and looking suspiciously with its wonderful big eyes 
upwards from under its lowered head and falling mane. 

"Come along a bit," replied Limb, "an' I'll show you." 

The man and the stallion went forward. It danced sideways, 
shaking its white fetlocks and looking frightened, as it felt 
itself in the brook. 

"No hanky-pankyin'," said the man affectionately to the 

It went up the bank in little leaps, then splashed finely 
through the second brook. Clara, walking with a kind of 
sulky abandon, watched it half-fascinated, half -contemptuous. 
Limb stopped and pointed to the fence under some vdllows. 

"There, you see where they got through," he said. "My 
man's druv 'em back three times." 


"Yes," answered Miriam, colouring as if she were at fault. 

"Are you comin' in?" asked the man. 

"No, thanks; but we should like to go by the pond." 

"Well, just as you've a mind," he said. 

The horse gave little whinneys of pleasure at being so near 

"He is glad to be back," said Clara, who was interested in 
the creature. 

"Yes — 'e's been a tidy step to-day." 

They went through the gate, and saw approaching them 
from the big farm-house a smallish, dark, excitable-looking 
woman of about thirty-five. Her hair was touched with grey, 
her dark eyes looked wild. She walked with her hands behind 
her back. Her brother went forward. As it saw her, the big 
bay stallion whinneyed again. She came up excitedly. 

"Are you home again, my boy!" she said tenderly to the 
horse, not to the man. The great beast shifted round to her, 
ducking his head. She smuggled into his mouth the wrinkled 
yellow apple she had been hiding behind her back, then she 
kissed him near the eyes. He gave a big sigh of pleasure. She 
held his head in her arms against her breast. 

"Isn't he splendid!" said Miriam to her. 

Miss Limb looked up. Her dark eyes glanced straight at Paul. 

"Oh, good-evening. Miss Leivers," she said. "It's ages since 
you've been down." 

Miriam introduced her friends. 

"Your horse is a fine fellow!" said Clara. 

"Isn't he!" Again she kissed him. "As loving as any man ! " 

"More loving than most men, 1 should think," replied Clara. 

"He's a nice boy!" cried the woman, again embracing the 

Clara, fascinated by the big beast, went up to stroke his 

"He's quite gentle," said Miss Limb. "Don't you think big 
fellows are?" 

"He's a beauty!" replied Clara. 

She wanted to look in his eyes. She wanted him to look 
at her. 

"It's a pity he can't talk," she said. 

"Oh, but he can — all but," replied the other woman. 

Then her brother moved on with the horse. 

"Are you coming in? Do come in, Mr. — 1 didn't catch it." 


"Morel," said Miriam. "No, we won't come in, but we 
should like to go by the mill-pond." 

"Yes — yes, do. Do you fish, Mr. Morel?" 

"No," said Paul. 

"Because if you do you might come and fish any time," said 
Miss Limb. "We scarcely see a soul from week's end to week's 
end. 1 should be thankful." 

"What fish are there in the pond?" he asked. 

They went through the front garden, over the sluice, and up 
the steep bank to the pond, which lay in shadow, with its two 
wooded islets. Paul walked with Miss Limb. 

"I shouldn't mind swimming here," he said. 

"Do," she replied. "Come when you like. My brother will 
be awfully pleased to talk with you. He is so quiet, because 
there is no one to talk to. Do come and swim." 

Clara came up. 

"It's a fine depth," she said, "and so clear." 

"Yes," said Miss Limb. 

"Do you swim?" said Paul. "Miss Limb was just saying we 
could come when we liked." 

"Of course there's the farm-hands," said Miss Limb. 

They talked a few moments, then went on up the wild hill, 
leaving the lonely, haggard-eyed woman on the bank. 

The hillside was all ripe with sunshine. It was wild and 
tussocky, given over to rabbits. The three walked in silence. 
Then : 

"She makes me feel uncomfortable," said Paul. 

"You mean Miss Limb?" asked Miriam. "Yes." 

"What's a matter with her? Is she going dotty with being 
too lonely?" 

"Yes," said Miriam. "It's not the right sort of life for her. 
I think it's cruel to bury her there. / really ought to go and see 
her more. But — she upsets me." 

"She makes me feel sorry for her — yes, and she bothers me," 
he said. 

"I suppose," blurted Clara suddenly, "she wants a man." 

The other two were silent for a few moments. 

"But it's the loneliness sends her cracked," said Paul. 

Clara did not answer, but strode on uphill. She was walking 
with her hand hanging, her legs swinging as she kicked through 
the dead thistles and the tussocky grass, her arms hanging 
loose. Rather than walking, her handsome body seemed to be 


blundering up the hill. A hot wave went over Paul. He was 
curious about her. Perhaps life had been cruel to her. He 
forgot Miriam, who was walking beside him talking to him. 
She glanced at him, finding he did not answer her. His eyes 
were fixed ahead on Clara. 

"Do you still think she is disagreeable?" she asked. 

He did not notice that the question was sudden. It ran with 
his thoughts. 

"Something's the matter with her," he said. 

"Yes," answered Miriam. 

They found at the top of the hill a hidden wild field, two 
sides of which were backed by the wood, the other sides by 
high loose hedges of hawthorn and elder bushes. Between 
these overgrown bushes were gaps that the cattle might have 
walked through had there been any cattle now. There the turf 
was smooth as velveteen, padded and holed by the rabbits. 
The field itself was coarse, and crowded with tall, big cow- 
slips that had never been cut. Clusters of strong flowers rose 
everywhere above the coarse tussocks of bent. It was like a 
roadstead crowded with tall, fairy shipping. 

"Ah!" cried Miriam, and she looked at Paul, her dark eyes 
dilating. He smiled. Together they enjoyed the field of flowers. 
Clara, a little way off, was looking at the cowslips discon- 
solately. Paul and Miriam stayed close together, talking in 
subdued tones. He kneeled on one knee, quickly gathering 
the best blossoms, moving from tuft to tuft restlessly, talking 
softly all the time. Miriam plucked the flowers lovingly, linger- 
ing over them. He always seemed to her too quick and almost 
scientific. Yet his bunches had a natural beauty more than 
hers. He loved them, but as if they were his and he had a 
right to them. She had more reverence for them : they held 
something she had not. 

The flowers were very fresh and sweet. He wanted to drink 
them. As he gathered them, he ate the little yellow trumpets. 
Clara was stfll wandering about disconsolately. Going towards 
her, he said : 

"Why don't you get some?" 

"1 don't believe in it. They look better growing." 

"But you'd like some?" 

"They want to be left." 

"1 don't believe they do." 

"1 don't want the corpses of flowers about me," she said. 


"That's a stiff, artificial notion/' he said. "They don't die 
any quicker in water than on their roots. And besides, they 
look nice in a bowl — they look jolly. And you only call a thing 
a corpse because it looks corpse-like." 

"Whether it is one or not?" she argued. 

"It isn't one to me. A dead flower isn't a corpse of a flower." 

Clara now ignored him. 

"And even so — what right have you to pull them?" she 

"Because I like them, and want them — and there's plenty of 

/ "And that is sufficient?" 

; "Yes. Why not? I'm sure they'd smell nice in your room 
in Nottingham." 

; "And I should have the pleasure of watching them die." 
j "But then — it does not matter if they do die." 

Whereupon he left her, and went stooping over the clumps 
of tangled flowers which thickly sprinkled the field like pale, 
luminous foam-clots. Miriam had come close. Clara was kneel- 
ing, breathing some scent from the cowslips. 

"I think," said Miriam, "if you treat them with reverence 
you don't do them any harm. It is the spirit you pluck them 
in that matters." 

"Yes," he said. "But no, you get 'em because you want 
'em, and that's all." He held out his bunch. 

Miriam was silent. He picked some more. 

"Look at these!" he continued; "sturdy and lusty like little 
trees and like boys with fat legs." 

Clara's hat lay on the grass not far off. She was kneeling, 
bending forward still to smell the flowers. Her neck gave him 
a sharp pang, such a beautiful thing, yet not proud of itself 
just now. Her breasts swung slightly in her blouse. The arch- 
ing curve of her back was beautiful and strong; she wore no 
stays. Suddenly, without knowing, he was scattering a hand- 
ful of cowslips over her hair and neck, saying : 

"Ashes to ashes, and dust to dust. 
If the Lord won't have you the devil must." 

The chill flowers fell on her neck. She looked up at him, 
with almost pitiful, scared grey eyes, wondering what he was 
doing. Flowers fell on her face, and she shut her eyes. 


Suddenly, standing there above her, he felt awkward. 

"I thought you wanted a funeral," he said, ill at ease. 

Clara laughed strangely, and rose, picking the cowslips from 
her hair. She took up her hat and pinned it on. One flower 
had remained tangled in her hair. He saw, but would not tell 
her. He gathered up the flowers he had sprinkled over her. 

At the edge of the wood the bluebells had flowed over into 
the field and stood there like flood-water. But they were fading 
now. Clara strayed up to them. He wandered after her. The 
bluebells pleased him. 

"Look how they've come out of the wood!" he said. 

Then she turned with a flash of warmth and of gratitude. 

"Yes," she smiled. 

His blood beat up. 

"It makes me think of the wild men of the woods, how 
terrified they would be when they got breast to breast with 
the open space." 

"Do you think they were?" she asked. 

"I wonder which was more frightened among old tribes — 
those bursting out of their darkness of woods upon all the 
space of light, or those from the open tiptoeing into the 

"I should think the second," she answered. 

"Yes, you do feel like one of the open space sort, trying to 
force yourself into the dark, don't you?" 

"How should 1 know?" she answered queerly. 

The conversation ended there. 

The evening was deepening over the earth. Already the 
valley was full of shadow. One tiny square of light stood 
opposite at Crossleigh Bank Farm. Brightness was swimming 
on the tops of the hills. Miriam came up slowly, her face in 
her big, loose bunch of flowers, walking ankle-deep through 
the scattered froth of the cowslips. Beyond her the trees were 
coming into shape, all shadow. 

"Shall we go?" she asked. 

And the three turned away. They were all silent. Going 
down the path they could see the light of home right across, 
and on the ridge of the hill a thin dark outline with little lights, 
where the colliery village touched the sky. 

"It has been nice, hasn't it?" he asked. 

Miriam murmured assent. Clara was silent. 

"Don't you think so?" he persisted. 


But she walked with her head up, and still did not answer. 
He could tell by the way she moved, as if she didn't care, that 
she suffered. 

At this time Paul took his mother to Lincoln. She was bright 
and enthusiastic as ever, but as he sat opposite her in the rail- 
way carriage, she seemed to look frail. He had a momentary 
sensation as if she were slipping away from him. Then he 
wanted to get hold of her, to fasten her, almost to chain her. 
He felt he must keep hold of her with his hand. 

They drew near to the city. Both were at the window look- 
ing for the cathedral. 

"There she is, mother!" he cried. 

They saw the great cathedral lying couchant above the 

"Ah!" she exclaimed. "So she is!" 

He looked at his mother. Her blue eyes were watching the 
cathedral quietly. She seemed again to be beyond him. Some- 
thing in the eternal repose of the uplifted cathedral, blue and 
noble against the sky, was reflected in her, something of the 
fatality. What was, was. With all his young will he could not 
alter it. He saw her face, the skin still fresh and pink and 
downy, but crow's-feet near her eyes, her eyelids steady, sink- 
ing a little, her mouth always closed wdth disillusion; and there 
was on her the same eternal look, as if she knew fate at last. 
He beat against it with all the strength of his soul. 

"Look, mother, how big she is above the town ! Think, there 
are streets and streets below her! She looks bigger than the 
city altogether." 

"So she does!" exclaimed his mother, breaking bright into 
life again. But he had seen her sitting, looking steady out of 
the window at the cathedral, her face and eyes fixed, reflect- 
ing the relentlessness of life. And the crow's-feet near her 
eyes, and her mouth shut so hard, made him feel he would go 

They ate a meal that she considered wildly extravagant. 

"Don't imagine 1 like it," she said, as she ate her cutlet. "I 
don't like it, I really don't! Just think of your money wasted!" 

"You never mind my money," he said. "You forget I'm a 
fellow taking his girl for an outing." 

And he bought her some blue violets. 

"Stop it at once, sir!" she commanded. "How can I do it?" 

"You've got nothing to do. Stand still!" 


And in the middle of High Street he stuck the flowers in 
her coat. 

"An old thing like me!" she said, sniffing. 

"You see," he said, "1 want people to think we're awful 
swells. So look ikey." 

"I'll jowl your head," she laughed. 

"Strut!" he commanded. "Be a fantail pigeon." 

It took him an hour to get her through the street. She stood 
above Glory Hole, she stood before Stone Bow, she stood every- 
where, and exclaimed. 

A man came up, took off his hat, and bowed to her. 

"Can 1 show you the town, madam?" 

"No, thank you," she answered. "I've got my son." 

Then Paul was cross with her for not answering with more 

"You go away with you!" she exclaimed. "Ha! that's the 
Jew's House. Now, do you remember that lecture, Paul ?" 

But she could scarcely climb the cathedral hill. He did not 
notice. Then suddenly he found her unable to speak. He took 
her into a little public-house, where she rested. 

"It's nothing," she said. "My heart is only a bit old; one 
must expect it." 

He did not answer, but looked at her. Again his heart was 
crushed in a hot grip. He wanted to cry, he wanted to smash 
things in fury. 

They set off again, pace by pace, so slowly. And every step 
seemed like a weight on his chest. He felt as if his heart would 
burst. At last they came to the top. She stood enchanted, 
looking at the castle gate, looking at the cathedral front. She 
had quite forgotten herself. 

"Now this is better than 1 thought it could be!" she cried. 

But he hated it. Everywhere he followed her, brooding. 
They sat together in the cathedral. They attended a little 
service in the choir. She was timid. 

"I suppose it is open to anybody?" she asked him. 

"Yes," he replied. "Do you think they'd have the damned 
cheek to send us away." 

"Well, I'm sure," she exclaimed, "they would if they heard 
your language." 

Her face seemed to shine again with joy and peace during 
the service. And all the time he was wanting to rage and 
smash things and cry. 


Afterwards, when they were leaning over the wall, looking 
at the town below, he blurted suddenly : 

"Why can't a man have a young mother? What is she 
old for?" 

"Well," his mother laughed, "she can scarcely help it." 

"And why wasn't I the oldest son? Look — they say the 
young ones have the advantage — but look, they had the young 
mother. You should have had me for your eldest son." 

"/ didn't arrange it," she remonstrated. "Come to consider, 
you're as much to blame as me." 

He turned on her, white, his eyes furious. 

"What are you old for!" he said, mad with his impotence. 
"Why can't you walk? Why can't you come with me to 

"At one time," she replied, "1 could have run up that hill a 
good deal better than you." 

"What's the good of that to me?" he cried, hitting his fist 
on the wall. Then he became plaintive. "It's too bad of you 
to be ill. Little, it is " 

"111!" she cried. "I'm a bit old, and you'll have to put up 
with it, that's all." 

They were quiet. But it was as much as they could bear. 
They got jolly again over tea. As they sat by Brayford, watch- 
ing the boats, he told her about Clara. His mother asked him 
innumerable questions. 

"Then who does she live with?" 

"With her mother, on Bluebell Hill." 

"And have they enough to keep them?" 

"I don't think so. 1 think they do lace work." 

"And wherein lies her charm, my boy?" 

"I don't know that she's charming, mother. But she's nice. 
And she seems straight, you know — not a bit deep, not a bit." 

"But she's a good deal older than you." 

"She's thirty, I'm going of twenty-three." 

"You haven't told me what you like her for." 

"Because I don't know — a sort of defiant way she's got — a 
sort of angry way." 

Mrs. Morel considered. She would have been glad now for 
her son to fall in love with some woman who would — she did 
not know what. But he fretted so, got so furious suddenly, 
and again was melancholic. She wished he knew some nice 
woman She did not know what she wished, but left it 


vague. At any rate, she was not hostile to the idea of Clara. 

Annie, too, was getting married. Leonard had gone away to 
work in Birmingham. One week-end when he was home she 
had said to him : 

"You don't look very well, my lad." 

"I dunno," he said. "1 feel anyhow or nohow, ma." 

He called her "ma" already in his boyish fashion. 

"Are you sure they're good lodgings?" she asked. 

"Yes — yes. Only — it's a winder when you have to pour your 
own tea out — an' nobody to grouse if you team it in 
your saucer and sup it up. It somehow takes a' the taste out 
of it." 

Mrs. Morel laughed. 

"And so it knocks you up?" she said. 

"1 dunno. 1 want to get married," he blurted, twisting his 
fingers and looking down at his boots. There was a silence. 

"But," she exclaimed, "1 thought you said you'd wait 
another year." 

"Yes, I did say so," he replied stubbornly. 

Again she considered. 

"And you know," she said, "Annie's a bit of a spendthrift. 
She's saved no more than eleven pounds. And 1 know, lad, 
you haven't had much chance." 

He coloured up to the ears. 

"I've got thirty-three quid," he said. 

"It doesn't go far," she answered. 

He said nothing, but twisted his fingers. 

"And you know," she said, "I've nothing " 

"1 didn't want, ma!" he cried, very red, suffering and 

"No, my lad, 1 know. I was only wishing 1 had. And take 
away five pounds for the wedding and things — it leaves twenty- 
nine pounds. You won't do much on that." 

He twisted still, impotent, stubborn, not looking up. 

"But do you really want to get married?" she asked. "Do 
you feel as if you ought?" 

He gave her one straight look from his blue eyes. 

"Yes," he said. 

"Then," she replied, "we must all do the best we can for it, 

The next time he looked up there were tears in his eyes. 

"I don't want Annie to feel handicapped," he said, struggling. 


"My lad," she said, "you're steady — you've got a decent 
place. If a man had needed me I'd have married him on his 
last w^eek's w^ages. She may find it a bit hard to start humbly. 
Young girls are like that. They look forward to the fine home 
they think they'll have. But / had expensive furniture. It's not 

So the wedding took place almost immediately. Arthur came 
home, and was splendid in uniform. Annie looked nice in a 
dove-grey dress that she could take for Sundays. Morel called 
her a fool for getting married, and was cool with his son-in- 
law. Mrs. Morel had white tips in her bonnet, and some white 
on her blouse, and was teased by both her sons for fancying 
herself so grand. Leonard was jolly and cordial, and felt a 
fearful fool. Paul could not quite see what Annie wanted to 
get married for. He was fond of her, and she of him. Still, 
he hoped rather lugubriously that it would turn out all right. 
Arthur was astonishingly handsome in his scarlet and yellow, 
and he knew it well, but was secretly ashamed of the uniform. 
Annie cried her eyes up in the kitchen, on leaving her mother. 
Mrs. Morel cried a little, then patted her on the back and 

"But don't cry, child, he'll be good to you." 

Morel stamped and said she was a fool to go and tie herself 
up. Leonard looked white and overwrought. Mrs. Morel said 
to him : 

"I s'll trust her to you, my lad, and hold you responsible 
for her." 

"You can," he said, nearly dead with the ordeal. And it was 
all over. 

When Morel and Arthur were in bed, Paul sat talking, as he 
often did, with his mother. 

"You're not sorry she's married, mother, are you?" he 

"I'm not sorry she's married — but — it seems strange that 
she should go from me. It even seems to me hard that she 
can prefer to go with her Leonard. That's how mothers are — 
I know it's silly." 

"And shall you be miserable about her?" 

"When I think of my own wedding day," his mother 
answered, "I can only hope her life will be different." 

"But you can trust him to be good to her?" 

"Yes, yes. They say he's not good enough for her. But I say 


if a man is genuine, as he is, and a girl is fond of him — then — 
it should be iill Jright. He's as good as she." 

"So you don't mind?" 

"I would never have let a daughter of mine marry a man I 
didn't ieel to be genuine through and through. And yet, there's 
a gap now she's gone." 

They were both miserable, and wanted her back again. It 
seemed to Paul his mother looked lonely, in her new black silk 
blouse with its bit of white trimming. 

"At any rate, mother, 1 s'll never marry," he said. 

"Ay, they all say that, my lad. You've not met the one yet. 
Only wait a year or two." 

"But I shan't marry, mother. I shall live with you, and we'll 
have a servant." 

"Ay, my lad, it's easy to talk. We'll see when the time 

"What time? I'm nearly twenty-three." 

"Yes, you're not one that would marry young. But in three 
years' time " 

"I shall be with you just the same." 

"We'll see, my boy, we'll see." 

"But you don't want me to marry?" 

"I shouldn't like to think of you going through your life 
without anybody to care for you and do — no." 

"And you think I ought to marry?" 

"Sooner or later every man ought." 

"But you'd rather it were later." 

"It would be hard — and very hard. It's as they say : 

" 'A son's my son till he takes him a wife. 

But my daughter's my daughter the whole of her life.' " 

"And you think I'd let a wife take me from you?" 

"Well, you wouldn't ask her to marry your mother as well 

as you," Mrs. Morel smiled. 

"She could do what she liked; she wouldn't have to 


"She wouldn't — till she'd got you — and then you'd see." 
"I never will see. I'll never marry while I've got you — I 


"But I shouldn't like to leave you with nobody, my boy," 

she cried. 


"You're not going to leave me. What are you? Fifty-three! 
I'll give you till seventy-five. There you are, I'm fat and forty- 
four. Then I'll marry a staid body. See!" 

His mother sat and laughed. 

"Go to bed," she said— "go to bed." 

"And w^e'II have a pretty house, you and me, and a servant, 
and it'll be just all right. I s'll perhaps be rich w^ith my 

"Will you go to bed!" 

"And then you s'll have a pony-carriage. See yourself — a 
little Queen Victoria trotting round." 

"I tell you to go to bed," she laughed. 

He kissed her and w^ent. His plans for the future v^ere 
always the same. 

Mrs. Morel sat brooding — about her daughter, about Paul, 
about Arthur. She fretted at losing Annie. The family was very 
closely bound. And she felt she must live now, to be with her 
children. Life was so rich for her. Paul wanted her, and so did 
Arthur. Arthur never knew how deeply he loved her. He was 
a creature of the moment. Never yet had he been forced to 
realise himself. The army had disciplined his body, but not 
his soul. He was in perfect health and very handsome. His 
dark, vigorous hair sat close to his smallish head. There was 
something childish about his nose, something almost girlish 
about his dark blue eyes. But he had the full red mouth of a 
man under his brown moustache, and his jaw was strong. It 
was his father's mouth; it was the nose and eyes of her own 
mother's people — good-looking, weak-principled folk. Mrs. 
Morel was anxious about him. Once he had really run the 
rig he was safe. But how far would he go? 

The army had not really done him any good. He resented 
bitterly the authority of the officers. He hated having 
to obey as if he were an animal. But he had too much sense 
to kick. So he turned his attention to getting the best out of 
it. He could sing, he was a boon-companion. Often he got 
into scrapes, but they were the manly scrapes that are easily 
condoned. So he made a good time out of it, whilst his self- 
respect was in suppression. He trusted to his good looks and 
handsome figure, his refinement, his decent education to get 
him most of what he wanted, and he was not disappointed. 
Yet he was restless. Something seemed to gnaw him inside. 
He was never still, he was never alone. With his mother he 


was rather humble. Paul he admired and loved and despised 
slightly. And Paul admired and loved and despised him slightly. 

Mrs. Morel had had a few pounds left to her by her father, 
and she decided to buy her son out of the army. He was wild 
with joy. Now he was like a lad taking a holiday. 

He had always been fond of Beatrice Wyld, and during his 
furlough he picked up with her again. She was stronger and 
better in health. The two often went long walks together, 
Arthur taking her arm in soldier's fashion, rather stiffly. And 
she came to play the piano whilst he sang. Then Arthur would 
unhook his tunic collar. He grew flushed, his eyes were bright, 
he sang in a manly tenor. Afterwards they sat together on the 
sofa. He seemed to flaunt his body : she was aware of him so 
— ^the strong chest, the sides, the thighs in their close-fitting 

He liked to lapse into the dialect when he talked to her. She 
would sometimes smoke with him. Occasionally she would 
only take a few whiffs at his cigarette. 

"Nay," he said to her one evening, when she reached for his 
cigarette. "Nay, tha doesna. I'll gi'e thee a smoke kiss if ter's 
a mind." 

"I wanted a whiff, no kiss at all," she answered. 

"Well, an' tha s'lt ha'e a whiff," he said, "along wi' t' kiss." 

"I want a draw at thy fag," she cried, snatching for the 
cigarette between his lips. 

He was sitting with his shoulder touching her. She was small 
and quick as lightning. He just escaped. 

"I'll gi'e thee a smoke kiss," he said. 

"Tha'rt a knivey nuisance, Arty Morel," she said, sitting 

"Ha'e a smoke kiss?" 

The soldier leaned forward to her, smiling. His face was 
near hers. 

"Shonna!" she replied, turning away her head. 

He took a draw at his cigarette, and pursed up his mouth, and 
put his lips close to her. His dark-brown cropped moustache 
stood out like a brush. She looked at the puckered crimson lips, 
then suddenly snatched the cigarette from his fingers and darted 
away. He, leaping after her, seized the comb from her back 
hair. She turned, threw the cigarette at him. He picked it up, 
put it in his mouth, and sat down. 

"Nuisance ! " she cried. "Give me my comb ! " 


She was afraid that her hair, specially done for him, would 
come down. She stood with her hands to her head. He hid 
the comb between his knees. 

"I've non got it," he said. 

The cigarette trembled between his lips with laughter as he 

"Liar!" she said. 

" 'S true as I'm here!" he laughed, showing his hands. 

"You brazen im.p!" she exclaimed, rushing and scuffling for 
the comb, which he had under his knees. As she wrestled with 
him, pulling at his smooth, tight-covered knees, he laughed till 
he lay back on the sofa shaking with laughter. The cigarette 
fell from his mouth almost singeing his throat. Under his 
delicate tan the blood flushed up, and he laughed till his blue 
eyes were blinded, his throat swollen almost to choking. Then 
he sat up. Beatrice was putting in her comb. 

"Tha tickled me. Beat," he said thickly. 

Like a flash her small white hand went out and smacked his 
face. He started up, glaring at her. They stared at each other. 
Slowly the flush mounted her cheek, she dropped her eyes, 
then her head. He sat down sulkily. She went into the scullery 
to adjust her hair. In private there she shed a few tears, she 
did not know what for. 

When she returned she was pursed up close. But it was only 
a film over her fire. He, with ruffled hair, was sulking upon the 
sofa. She sat down opposite, in the arm-chair, and neither 
spoke. The clock ticked in the silence like blows. 

"You are a little cat. Beat," he said at length, half apolo- 

"Well, you shouldn't be brazen," she replied. 

There was again a long silence. He whistled to himself like 
a man much agitated but defiant. Suddenly she went across to 
him and kissed him. 

"Did it, pore fing!" she mocked. 

He lifted his face, smiling curiously. 

"Kiss?" he invited her. 

"Daren't I?" she asked. 

"Go on!" he challenged, his mouth lifted to her. 

Deliberately, and with a peculiar quivering smile that seemed 
to overspread her whole body, she put her mouth on his. 
Immediately his arms folded round her. As soon as the long 
kiss was finished she drew back her head from him, put her 


delicate fingers on his neck, through the open collar. Then she 
closed her eyes, giving herself up again in a kiss. 

She acted of her own free will. What she would do she did, 
and made nobody responsible. 

Paul felt life changing around him. The conditions of youth 
were gone. Now it was a home of grown-up people. Annie 
was a married woman, Arthur was following his own pleasure 
in a way unknown to his folk. For so long they had all lived at 
home, and gone out to pass their time. But now, for Annie and 
Arthur, life lay outside their mother's house. They came home 
for holiday and for rest. So there was that strange, half-empty 
feeling about the house, as if the birds had flown. Paul became 
more and more unsettled. Annie and Arthur had gone. He was 
restless to follow. Yet home was for him beside his mother. 
And still there was something else, something outside, some- 
thing he wanted. 

He grew more and more restless. Miriam did not satisfy him. 
His old mad desire to be with her grew weaker. Sometimes he 
met Clara in Nottingham, sometimes he went to meetings with 
her, sometimes he saw her at Willey Farm. But on these last 
occasions the situation became strained. There was a triangle 
of antagonism between Paul and Clara and Miriam. With Clara 
he took on a smart, worldly, mocking tone very antagonistic 
to Miriam. It did not matter what went before. She might be 
intimate and sad with him. Then as soon as Clara appeared, it 
all vanished, and he played to the newcomer. 

Miriam had one beautiful evening with him in the hay. He 
had been on the horse-rake, and having finished, came to help 
her to put the hay in cocks. Then he talked to her of his hopes 
and despairs, and his whole soul seemed to lie bare before her. 
She felt as if she watched the very quivering stuff of life in him. 
The moon came out: they walked home together: he seemed 
to have come to her because he needed her so badly, and she 
listened to him, gave him all her love and her faith. It seemed 
to her he brought her the best of himself to keep, and that she 
would guard it all her life. Nay, the sky did not cherish the 
stars more surely and etern'ally than she would guard the good 
in the soul of Paul Morel. She went on home alone, feeling 
exalted, glad in her faith. 

And then, the next day, Clara came. They were to have tea 
in the hayfield. Miriam watched the evening drawing to gold 


and shadow. And all the time Paul was sporting with Clara. 
He made higher and higher heaps of hay that they were jump- 
ing over. Miriam did not care for the game, and stood aside. 
Edgar and Geoffrey and Maurice and Clara and Paul jumped. 
Paul won, because he was light. Clara's blood was roused. She 
could run like an Amazon. Paul loved the determined way she 
rushed at the haycock and leaped, landed on the other side, 
her breasts shaken, her thick hair come undone. 

"You touched!" he cried. "You touched!" 

"No!" she flashed, turning to Edgar. "I didn't touch, did I?" 
Wasn't I clear?" 

"I couldn't say," laughed Edgar. 

None of them could say. 

"But you touched," said Paul. "You're beaten." 

"I did not touch ! " she cried. 

"As plain as anything," said Paul. 

"Box his ears for me ! " she cried to Edgar. 

"Nay," Edgar laughed. "1 daren't. You must do it yourself." 

"And nothing can alter the fact that you touched," laughed 

She was furious with him. Her little triumph before these 
lads and men was gone. She had forgotten herself in the game. 
Now he was to humble her. 

"1 think you are despicable!" she said. 

And again he laughed, in a way that tortured Miriam. 

"And I knew you couldn't jump that heap," he teased. 

She turned her back on him. Yet everybody could see that 
the only person she listened to, or was conscious of, was he, 
and he of her. It pleased the men to see this battle between 
them. But Miriam was tortured. 

Paul could choose the lesser in place of the higher, she saw. 
He could be unfaithful to himself, unfaithful to the real, deep 
Paul Morel. There was a danger of his becoming frivolous, of 
his running after his satisfaction like any Arthur, or like his 
father. It made Miriam bitter to think that he should throw 
away his soul for this flippant traffic of triviality with Clara. 
She walked in bitterness and silence, while the other two rallied 
each other, and Paul sported. 

And afterwards, he would not own it, but he was rather 
ashamed of himself, and prostrated himself before Miriam. 
Then again he rebelled. 

"It's not religious to be religious," he said. "I reckon a crow 


is religious when it sails across the sky. But it only does it 
because it feels itself carried to where it's going, not because it 
thinks it is being eternal." 

But Miriam knew that one should be religious in everything, 
have God, whatever God might be, present in everything. 

"I don't believe God knows such a lot about Himself," he 
cried. "God doesn't know things. He is things. And I'm sure 
He's not soulful." 

And then it seemed to her that Paul was arguing God on to 
his own side, because he wanted his own way and his own 
pleasure. There was a long battle between him and her. He 
was utterly unfaithful to her even in her own presence; then he 
was ashamed, then repentant; then he hated her, and went off 
again. Those were the ever-recurring conditions. 

She fretted him to the bottom of his soul. There she remained 
— sad, pensive, a worshipper. And he caused her sorrow. Half 
the time he grieved for her, half the time he hated her. She 
was his conscience; and he felt, somehow, he had got a con- 
science that was too much for him. He could not leave her, 
because in one way she did hold the best of him. He could not 
stay with her because she did not take the rest of him, which 
was three-quarters. So he chafed himself into rawness over her. 

When she was twenty-one he wrote her a letter which could 
only have been written to her. 

"May I speak of our old, worn love, this last time. It, too, 
is changing, is it not ? Say, has not the body of that love died, 
and left you its invulnerable soul? You see, I can give you a 
spirit love, I have given it you this long, long time; but not 
embodied passion. See, you are a nun. I have given you what 
I would give a holy nun — as a mystic monk to a mystic nun. 
Surely you esteem it best. Yet you regret — no, have regretted — 
the other. In all our relations no body enters. I do not talk to 
you through the senses — rather through the spirit. That is why 
we cannot love in the common sense. Ours is not an everyday 
affection. As yet we are mortal, and to live side by side with 
one another would be dreadful, for somehow with you 1 can- 
not long be trivial, and, you know, to be always beyond this 
mortal state would be to lose it. If people marry, they must 
live together as affectionate humans, who may be common- 
place with each other without feeling awkward — not as two 
souls. So I feel it. 


"Ought I to send this letter? — 1 doubt it. But there — it is 
best to understand. Au revoir." 

Miriam read this letter twice, after which she sealed it up. 
A year later she broke the seal to show her mother the 

"You are a nun — you are a nun." The words went into her 
heart again and again. Nothing he ever had said had gone into 
her so deeply, fixedly, like a mortal wound. 

She answered him two days after the party. 

" 'Our intimacy would have been all-beautiful but for one 
little mistake,' " she quoted. "Was the mistake mine?" 

Almost immediately he replied to her from Nottingham, 
sending her at the same time a little "Omar Khayyam". 

"I am glad you answered; you are so calm and natural you 
put me to shame. What a ranter 1 am! We are often out of 
sympathy. But in fundamentals we may always be together I 

"I must thank you for your sympathy with my painting and 
drawing. Many a sketch is dedicated to you. 1 do look forward 
to your criticisms, which, to my shame and glory, are always 
grand appreciations. It is a lovely joke, that. Au revoir." 

This was the end of the first phase of Paul's love affair. He 
was now about twenty-three years old, and, though still virgin, 
the sex instinct that Miriam had over-refined for so long now 
grew particularly strong. Often, as he talked to Clara Dawes, 
came that thickening and quickening of his blood, that peculiar 
concentration in the breast, as if something were alive there, a 
new self or a new centre of consciousness, warning him that 
sooner or later he would have to ask one woman or another. 
But he belonged to Miriam. Of that she was so fixedly sure 
that he allowed her right. 



When he was twenty-three years old, Paul sent in a landscape 
to the vdnter exhibition at Nottingham Castle. Miss Jordan had 
taken a good deal of interest in him, and invited him to her 

CLARA 253 

house, where he met other artists. He was beginning to grow 

One morning the postman came just as he was washing in 
the scullery. Suddenly he heard a wild noise from his mother. 
Rushing into the kitchen, he found her standing on the hearth- 
rug wildly waving a letter and crying "Hurrah!" as if she had 
gone mad. He was shocked and frightened. 

"Why, mother!" he exclaimed. 

She flew to him, flung her arms round him for a moment, 
then waved the letter, crying : 

"Hurrah, my boy ! I knew we should do it ! " 

He was afraid of her — the small, severe woman with greying 
hair suddenly bursting out in such frenzy. The postman came 
running back, afraid something had happened. They saw his 
tipped cap over the short curtains. Mrs. Morel rushed to the 

"His picture's got first prize, Fred," she cried, "and is sold 
for twenty guineas." 

"My word, that's something like!" said the young postman, 
whom they had known all his life. 

"And Major Moreton has bought it!" she cried. 

"It looks like meanin* something, that does, Mrs. Morel," 
said the postman, his blue eyes bright. He was glad to have 
brought such a lucky letter. Mrs. Morel went indoors and sat 
down, trembling. Paul was afraid lest she might have misread 
the letter, and might be disappointed after all. He scrutinised 
it once, twice. Yes, he became convinced it was true. Then he 
sat down, his heart beating with joy. 

"Mother!" he exclaimed. 

"Didn't I say we should do it!" she said, pretending she was 
not crying. 

He took the kettle off the fire and mashed the tea. 

"You didn't think, mother " he began tentatively. 

"No, my son — not so much — but 1 expected a good deal." 

"But not so much," he said. 

"No — no — ^but I knew we should do it." 

And then she recovered her composure, apparently at least. 
He sat with his shirt turned back, showing his young throat 
almost like a girl's, and the towel in his hand, his hair sticking 
up wet. 

"Twenty guineas, mother! That's just what you wanted to 
buy Arthur out. Now you needn't borrow any. It'll just do." 


"Indeed, I shan't take it all/' she said. 

"But why?" 

"Because I shan't." 

"Well — you have twelve pounds, I'll have nine." 

They cavilled about sharing the twenty guineas. She wanted 
to take only the five pounds she needed. He would not hear of 
it. So they got over the stress of emotion by quarrelling. 

Morel came home at night from the pit, saying : 

"They tell me Paul's got first prize for his picture, and sold 
it to Lord Henry Bentley for fifty pound." 

"Oh, what stories people do tell ! " she cried. 

"Ha ! " he answered. "I said 1 wor sure it wor a lie. But they 
said tha'd told Fred Hodgkisson." 

"As if I would tell him such stuff ! " 

"Ha!" assented the miner. 

But he was disappointed nevertheless. 

"It's true he has got the first prize," said Mrs Morel. 

The miner sat heavily in his chair. 

"Has he, beguy!" he exclaimed. 

He stared across the room fixedly. 

"But as for fifty pounds — such nonsense!" She was silent 
awhile. "Major Moreton bought it for twenty guineas, that's 

"Twenty guineas! Tha niver says!" exclaimed Morel. 

"Yes, and it was worth it." 

"Ay!" he said. "I don't misdoubt it. But twenty guineas 
for a bit of a paintin' as he knocked off in an hour or two!" 

He was silent v^th conceit of his son. Mrs. Morel sniffed, as 
if it were nothing. 

"And when does he handle th' money?" asked the collier. 

"That I couldn't tell you. When the picture is sent home, 
I suppose." 

There was silence. Morel stared at the sugar-basin instead of 
eating his dinner. His black arm, with the hand all gnarled 
with work lay on the table. His wife pretended not to see him 
rub the back of his hand across his eyes, nor the smear in the 
coal-dust on his black face. 

"Yes, an' that other lad 'ud 'a done as much if they hadna 
ha' killed 'im," he said quietly. 

The thought of William went through Mrs. Morel like a cold 
blade. It left her feeling she was tired, and wanted rest. 

Paul was invited to dinner at Mr. Jordan's. Afterwards he said: 

CLARA 2££ 

"Mother, I want an evening suit." 

"Yes, I was afraid you would," she said. She was glad. 
There was a moment or two of silence. "There's that one of 
William's," she continued, "that I know cost four pounds ten 
and which he'd only worn three times." 

"Should you like me to wear it, mother?" he asked. 

"Yes. I think it would fit you — at least the coat. The trousers 
would want shortening." 

He went upstairs and put on the coat and vest. Coming 
down, he looked strange in a flannel collar and a flannel shirt- 
front, with an evening coat and vest. It was rather large. 

"The tailor can make it right," she said, smoothing her hand 
over his shoulder. "It's beautiful stuff. 1 never could find in 
my heart to let your father wear the trousers, and very glad 
I am now." 

And as she smoothed her hand over the silk collar she 
thought of her eldest son. But this son was living enough inside 
the clothes. She passed her hand down his back to feel him. He 
was alive and hers. The other was dead. 

He went out to dinner several times in his evening suit that 
had been William's. Each time his mother's heart was firm 
with pride and joy. He was started now. The studs she and 
the children had bought for William were in his shirt-front; he 
wore one of William's dress shirts. But he had an elegant figure. 
His face was rough, but warm-looking and rather pleasing. He 
did not look particularly a gentleman, but she thought he 
looked quite a man. 

He told her everything that took place, everything that was 
said. It was as if she had been there. And he was dying to 
introduce her to these new friends who had dinner at seven- 
thirty in the evening. 

"Go along with you!" she said. "What do they want to 
know me for?" 

"They do!" he cried indignantly. "If they want to know me 
— and they say they do — then they want to know you, because 
you are quite as clever as I am." 

"Go along with you, child!" she laughed. 

But she began to spare her hands. They, too, were work- 
gnarled now. The skin was shiny with so much hot water, the 
knuckles rather swollen. But she began to be careful to keep 
them out of soda. She regretted what they had been — so small 
and exquisite. And when Annie insisted on her having more 


Stylish blouses to suit her age, she submitted. She even went 
so far as to allow a black velvet bow to be placed on her hair. 
Then she sniifed in her sarcastic manner, and was sure she 
looked a sight. But she looked a lady, Paul declared, as much 
as Mrs. Major Moreton, and far, far nicer. The family was 
coming on. Only Morel remained unchanged, or rather, lapsed 

Paul and his mother now had long discussions about life. 
Religion was fading into the background. He had shovelled 
away all the beliefs that would hamper him, had cleared the 
ground, and come more or less to the bedrock of belief that 
one should feel inside oneself for right and wrong, and should 
have the patience to gradually realise one's God. Now life 
interested him more. 

"You know," he said to his mother, "1 don't want to belong 
to the well-to-do middle class. I like my common people best. 
I belong to the common people." 

"But if anyone else said so, my son, wouldn't you be in a 
tear. You know you consider yourself equal to any gentleman." 

"In myself," he answered, "not in my class or my education 
or my manners. But in myself I am." 

"Very well, then. Then why talk about the common 

"Because — the difference between people isn't in their class, 
but in themselves. Only from the middle classes one gets ideas, 
and from the common people — life itself, warmth. You feel 
their hates and loves." 

"It's all very well, my boy. But, then, why don't you go and 
talk to your father's pals?" 

"But they're rather different." 

"Not at all. They're the common people. After all, whom do 
you mix with now — among the common people? Those that 
exchange ideas, like the middle classes. The rest don't interest 

"But— there's the life " 

"1 don't believe there's a jot more life from Miriam than 
you could get from any educated girl — say Miss Moreton. It 
is you who are snobbish about class." 

She frankly wanted him to climb into the middle classes, a 
thing not very difficult, she knew. And she wanted him in the 
end to marry a lady. 

Now she began to combat him in his restless fretting. He 

CLARA 257 

Still kept up his connection with Miriam, could neither break 
free nor go the whole length of engagement. And this in- 
decision seemed to bleed him of his energy. Moreover, his 
mother suspected him of an unrecognised leaning towards 
Clara, and, since the latter was a married woman, she wished 
he would fall in love with one of the girls in a better station 
of life. But he was stupid, and would refuse to love or even 
to admire a girl much, just because she was his social superior. 

"My boy," said his mother to him, "all your cleverness, your 
breaking away from old things, and taking life in your own 
hands, doesn't seem to bring you much happiness." 

"What is happiness!" he cried. "It's nothing to me! How 
am 1 to be happy?" 

The plump question disturbed her. 

"That's for you to judge, my lad. But if you could meet some 
good woman who would make you happy — and you began to 
think of settling your life — when you have the means — so that 
you could work without all this fretting — it would be much 
better for you." 

He frowned. His mother caught him on the raw of his wound 
of Miriam. He pushed the tumbled hair off his forehead, his 
eyes full of pain and fire. 

"You mean easy, mother," he cried. "That's a woman's 
whole doctrine for life — ease of soul and physical comfort. 
And I do despise it." 

"Oh, do you!" replied his mother "And do you call yours 
a divine discontent?" 

"Yes. I don't care about its divinity. But damn your happi- 
ness ! So long as life's full, it doesn't matter whether it's happy 
or not. I'm afraid your happiness would bore me." 

"You never give it a chance," she said. Then suddenly all 
her passion of grief over him broke out. "But it does matter!" 
she cried. "And you ought to be happy, you ought to try to be 
happy, to live to be happy. How could 1 bear to think your life 
wouldn't be a happy one!" 

"Your own's been bad enough, mater, but it hasn't left you 
so much worse off than the folk who've been happier. I reckon 
you've done well. And 1 am the same. Aren't 1 well enough 

"You're not, my son. Battle — battle — and suffer. It's about 
all you do, as far as I can see." 

"But why not, my dear? I tell you it's the best " 


"It isn't. And one ought to be happy, one ought.'' 

By this time Mrs. Morel was trembling violently. Struggles 
of this kind often took place between her and her son, when 
she seemed to fight for his very life against his own will to die. 
He took her in his arms. She was ill and pitiful. 

"Never mind. Little," he murmured. "So long as you don't 
feel life's paltry and a miserable business, the rest doesn't 
matter, happiness or unhappiness." 

She pressed him to her. 

"But I want you to be happy," she said pathetically. 

"Eh, my dear — say rather you want me to live." 

Mrs. Morel felt as if her heart would break for him. At this 
rate she knew he would not live. He had that poignant care- 
lessness about himself, his own suffering, his own life, which 
is a form of slow suicide. It almost broke her heart. With all 
the passion of her strong nature she hated Miriam for having 
in this subtle way undermined his joy. It did not matter to her 
that Miriam could not help it. Miriam did it, and she hated her. 

She wished so much he would fall in love with a girl equal 
to be his mate — educated and strong. But he would not look 
at anybody above him in station. He seemed to like Mrs. 
Dawes. At any rate that feeling was wholesome. His mother 
prayed and prayed for him, that he might not be wasted. That 
was all her prayer — not for his soul or his righteousness, but 
that he might not be wasted. And while he slept, for hours and 
hours she thought and prayed for him. 

He drifted away from Miriam imperceptibly, without know- 
ing he was going. Arthur only left the army to be married. 
The baby was born six months after his wedding. Mrs. Morel 
got him a job under the firm again, at twenty-one shillings a 
week. She furnished for him, with the help of Beatrice's 
mother, a little cottage of two rooms. He was caught now. 
It did not matter how he kicked and struggled, he was fast. 
For a time he chafed, was irritable with his young wife, who 
loved him; he went almost distracted when the baby, which 
was delicate, cried or gave trouble. He grumbled for hours to 
his mother. She only said : "Well, my lad, you did it yourself, 
now you must make the best of it." And then the grit came 
out in him. He buckled to work, undertook his responsibilities, 
acknowledged that he belonged to his wife and child, and did 
make a good best of it. He had never been very closely in- 
bound into the family. Now he was gone altogether. 

CLARA 2^9 

The months went slowly along. Paul had more or less got 
into connection with the Socialist, Suffragette, Unitarian people 
in Nottingham, owing to his acquaintance with Clara. One day 
a friend of his and of Clara's, in Bestwood, asked him to take a 
message to Mrs. Dawes. He went in the evening across Sneinton 
Market to Bluebell Hill. He found the house in a mean little 
street paved with granite cobbles and having causeways of dark 
blue, grooved bricks. The front door went up a step from off 
this rough pavement, where the feet of the passers-by rasped 
and clattered. The brown paint on the door was so old that 
the naked wood showed between the rents. He stood on the 
street below and knocked. There came a heavy footstep; a 
large, stout woman of about sixty towered above him. He 
looked up at her from the pavement. She had a rather severe 

She admitted him into the parlour, which opened on to the 
street. It was a small, stuffy, defunct room, of mahogany, and 
deathly enlargements of photographs of departed people done 
in carbon. Mrs. Radford left him. She was stately, almost 
martial. In a moment Clara appeared. She flushed deeply, 
and he was covered with confusion. It seemed as if she did 
not like being discovered in her home circumstances. 

"I thought it couldn't be your voice," she said. 

But she might as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb. She 
invited him out of the mausoleum of a parlour into the kitchen. 

That was a little, darkish room too, but it was smothered in 
white lace. Tne mother had seated herself again by the 
cupboard, and was drawing thread from a vast web of lace. 
A clump of fluff and ravelled cotton was at her right hand, a 
heap of three-quarter-inch lace lay on her left, whilst in front 
of her was the mountain of lace web, piling the hearthrug. 
Threads of curly cotton, pulled out from between the lengths 
of lace, strewed over the fender and the fireplace. Paul dared 
not go forward, for fear of treading on piles of white stuff. 

On the table was a jenny for carding the lace. There was 
a pack of brown cardboard squares, a pack of cards of lace, a 
little box of pins, and on the sofa lay a heap of drawn lace. 

The room was all lace, and it was so dark and warm that the 
white, snowy stuff seemed the more distinct. 

"If you're coming in you won't have to mind the work," 
said Mrs. Radford. "I know we're about blocked up. But sit 
you down." 


Clara, much embarrassed, gave him a chair against the wall 
opposite the white heaps. Then she herself took her place on 
the sofa, shamedly. 

"Will you drink a bottle of stout?" Mrs. Radford asked. 
"Clara, get him a bottle of stout." 

He protested, but Mrs. Radford insisted. 

"You look as if you could do with it," she said. "Haven't 
you never any more colour than that?" 

"It's only a thick skin I've got that doesn't show the blood 
through," he answered. 

Clara, ashamed and chagrined, brought him a bottle of stout 
and a glass. He poured out some of the black stuff. 

"Well," he said, lifting the glass, "here's health!" 

"And thank you," said Mrs. Radford. 

He took a drink of stout. 

"And light yourself a cigarette, so long as you don't set the 
house on fire," said Mrs. Radford. 

"Thank you," he replied. 

"Nay, you needn't thank me," she answered. "I s'll be glad 
to smell a bit of smoke in th' 'ouse again. A house o' women 
is as dead as a house wi' no fire, to my thinkin'. I'm not a 
spider as likes a corner to myself. I like a man about, if he's 
only something to snap at." 

Clara began to work. Her jenny spun with a subdued buzz; 
the white lace hopped from between her fingers on to the card. 
It was filled; she snipped off the length, and pinned the end 
down to the banded lace. Then she put a new card in her 
jenny. Paul watched her. She sat square and magnificent. Her 
throat and arms were bare. The blood still mantled below her 
ears; she bent her head in shame of her humility. Her face was 
set on her work. Her arms were creamy and full of life beside 
the white lace; her large, well-kept hands worked wdth a 
balanced movement, as if nothing would hurry them. He, not 
knowing, watched her all the time. He saw the arch of her 
neck from the shoulder, as she bent her head; he saw the coil 
of dun hair; he watched her moving, gleaming arms. 

"I've heard a bit about you from Clara," continued the 
mother. "You're in Jordan's, aren't you?" She drew her lace 


"Ay, well, and I can remember when Thomas Jordan used 
to ask me for one of my toffies." 

CLARA 261 

"Did he?" laughed Paul. "And did he get it?" 

"Sometimes he did, sometimes he didn't — which was latterly. 
For he's the sort that takes all and gives naught, he is — or used 
to be." 

"I think he's very decent," said Paul. 

"Yes; well, I'm glad to hear it." 

Mrs. Radford looked across at him steadily. There was some- 
thing determined about her that he liked. Her face was falling 
loose, but her eyes were calm, and there was something strong 
in her that made it seem she was not old; merely her wrinkles 
and loose cheeks were an anachronism. She had the strength 
and sang-froid of a woman in the prime of life. She continued 
drawing the lace with slow, dignified movements. The big web 
came up inevitably over her apron; the length of lace fell away 
at her side. Her arms were finely shapen, but glossy and yellow 
as old ivory. They had not the peculiar dull gleam that made 
Clara's so fascinating to him. 

"And you've been going with Miriam Leivers?" the mother 
asked him. 

"Well " he answered. 

"Yes, she's a nice girl," she continued. "She's very nice, but 
she's a bit too much above this world to suit my fancy." 

"She is a bit like that," he agreed. 

"She'll never be satisfied till she's got wings and can fly over 
everybody's head, she won't," she said. 

Clara broke in, and he told her his message. She spoke 
humbly to him. He had surprised her in her drudgery. To have 
her humble made him feel as if he were lifting his head in 

"Do you like jennying?" he asked. 

"What can a woman do!" she replied bitterly. 

"Is it sweated?" 

"More or less. Isn't all woman's work ? That's another trick 
the men have played, since we force ourselves into the labour 

"Now then, you shut up about the men," said her mother. 
"If the women wasn't fools, the men wouldn't be bad uns, 
that's what 1 say. No man was ever that bad wi' me but what 
he got it back again. Not but what they're a lousy lot, there's 
no denying it." 

"But they're all right really, aren't they?" he asked. 

"Well, they're a bit different from women," she answered, 


"Would you care to be back at Jordan's?" he asked Clara. 

"I don't think so/' she replied. 

"Yes, she would!" cried her mother; "thank her stars if she 
could get back. Don't you listen to her. She's for ever on that 
'igh horse of hers, an' it's back's that thin an' starved it'll cut 
her i' two one of these days." 

Clara suffered badly from her mother. Paul felt as if his 
eyes were coming very wdde open. Wasn't he to take Clara's 
fulminations so seriously, after all? She spun steadily at her 
work. He experienced a thrill of joy, thinking she might need 
his help. She seemed denied and deprived of so much. And 
her arm moved mechanically, that should never have been 
subdued to a mechanism, and her head was bowed to the 
lace, that never should have been bowed. She seemed to be 
stranded there among the refuse that life has thrown away, 
doing her jennying. It was a bitter thing to her to be put 
aside by life, as if it had no use for her. No wonder she 

She came with him to the door. He stood below in the mean 
street, looking up at her. So fine she was in her stature and 
her bearing, she reminded him of Juno dethroned. As she 
stood in the doorway, she winced from the street, from her 

"And you will go with Mrs. Hodgkisson to Hucknall?" 

He was talking quite meaninglessly, only watching her. Her 
grey eyes at last met his. They looked dumb with humilia- 
tion, pleading with a kind of captive misery. He was shaken 
and at a loss. He had thought her high and mighty. 

When he left her, he wanted to run. He went to the station 
in a sort of dream, and was at home without realising he had 
moved out of her street. 

He had an idea that Susan, the overseer of the Spiral girls, 
was about to be married. He asked her the next day. 

"I say, Susan, I heard a whisper of your getting married. 
What about it?" 

Susan flushed red. 

"Who's been talking to you?" she replied. 

"Nobody. I merely heard a whisper that you v^ere think- 

"Well, I am, though you needn't tell anybody. What's more, 
I wish I wasn't!" 

"Nay, Susan, you won't make me believe that." 

CLARA 263 

"Shan't I? You can believe it, though. I'd rather stop here 
a thousand times." 

Paul was perturbed. 

"Why, Susan?" 

The girl's colour was high, and her eyes flashed. 

"That's why!" 

"And must you?" 

For answer, she looked at him. There was about him a 
candour and gentleness which made the women trust him. 
He understood. 

"Ah, I'm sorry," he said. 

Tears came to her eyes. 

"But you'll see it'll turn out all right. You'll make the best 
of it," he continued rather wistfully. 

"There's nothing else for it." 

"Yea, there's making the worst of it. Try and make it all 

He soon made occasion to call again on Clara. 

"Would you," he said, "care to come back to Jordan's?" 

She put down her work, laid her beautiful arms on the table, 
and looked at him for some moments without answering. 
Gradually the flush mounted her cheek. 

"Why?" she asked. 

Paul felt rather awkward. 

"Well, because Susan is thinking of leaving," he said. 

Clara went on with her jennying. The white lace leaped in 
little jumps and bounds on to the card. He waited for her. 
Without raising her head, she said at last, in a peculiar low 
voice : 

"Have you said anything about it?" 

"Except to you, not a word." 

There was again a long silence. 

"I will apply when the advertisement is out," she said. 

"You will apply before that. I will let you know exactly 

She went on spinning her little machine, and did not con- 
tradict him. 

Clara came to Jordan's. Some of the older hands, Fanny 
among them, remembered her earlier rule, and cordially dis- 
liked the memory. Clara had always been "ikey", reserved, 
and superior. She had never mixed with the girls as one of 
themselves. If she had occasion to find fault, she did it coolly 


and with perfect politeness, which the defaulter felt to be a 
bigger insult than crossness. Towards Fanny, the poor, over- 
strung hunchback, Clara was unfailingly compassionate and 
gentle, as a result of which Fanny shed more bitter tears than 
ever the rough tongues of the other overseers had caused her. 

There was something in Clara that Paul disliked, and much 
that piqued him. If she were about, he always watched her 
strong throat or her neck, upon which the blonde hair grew 
low and fluffy. There was a fine down, almost invisible, upon 
the skin of her face and arms, and when once he had perceived 
it, he saw it always. 

When he was at his work, painting in the afternoon, she 
would come and stand near to him, perfectly motionless. 
Then he felt her, though she neither spoke nor touched him. 
Although she stood a yard away he felt as if he were in con- 
tact with her. Then he could paint no more. He flung down 
the brushes, and turned to talk to her. 

Sometimes she praised his work; sometimes she was critical 
and cold. 

"You are affected in that piece," she would say; and, as 
there was an element of truth in her condemnation, his blood 
boiled with anger. 

Again: "What of this?" he would ask enthusiastically. 

"H'm!" She made a small doubtful sound. "It doesn't 
interest me much." 

"Because you don't understand it," he retorted. 

"Then why ask me about it?" 

"Because I thought you would understand." 

She would shrug her shoulders in scorn of his work. She 
maddened him. He was furious. Then he abused her, and 
went into passionate exposition of his stuff. This amused and 
stimulated her. But she never owned that she had been wrong. 

During the ten years that she had belonged to the women's 
movement she had acquired a fair amount of education, and, 
having had some of Miriam's passion to be instructed, had 
taught herself French, and could read in that language with a 
struggle. She considered herself as a woman apart, and particu- 
larly apart, from her class. The girls in the Spiral department 
were all of good homes. It was a small, special industry, and 
had a certain distinction. There was an air of refinement in 
both rooms. But Clara was aloof also from her fellow- workers. 

None of these things, however, did she reveal to Paul. She 

CLARA 265 

was not the one to give herself away. There was a sense of 
mystery about her. She was so reserved, he felt she had much 
to reserve. Her history was open on the surface, but its inner 
meaning was hidden from everybody. It was exciting. And 
then sometimes he caught her looking at him from under her 
brows with an almost furtive, sullen scrutiny, which made 
him move quickly. Often she met his eyes. But then her own 
were, as it were, covered over, revealing nothing. She gave 
him a little, lenient smile. She was to him extraordinarily 
provocative, because of the knowledge she seemed to possess, 
and gathered fruit of experience he could not attain. 

One day he picked up a copy of Lettres de mon Moulin 
from her work-bench. 

"You read French, do you?" he cried. 

Clara glanced round negligently. She was making an elastic 
stocking of heliotrope silk, turning the Spiral machine with 
slow, balanced regularity, occasionally bending down to see 
her work or to adjust the needles; then her magnificent neck, 
with its down and fine pencils of hair, shone white against 
the lavender, lustrous silk. She turned a few more rounds, 
and stopped. 

"What did you say?" she asked, smiling sweetly. 

Paul's eyes glittered at her insolent indifference to him. 

"I did not know you read French," he said, very polite. 

"Did you not?" she replied, with a faint, sarcastic smile. 

"Rotten swank!" he said, but scarcely loud enough to be 

He shut his mouth angrily as he watched her. She seemed to 
scorn the work she mechanically produced; yet the hose she 
made were as nearly perfect as possible. 

"You don't like Spiral work," he said. 

"Oh, well, all work is work," she answered, as if she knew 
all about it. 

He marvelled at her coldness. He had to do everything hotly. 
She must be something special. 

"What would you prefer to do?" he asked. 

She laughed at him indulgently, as she said : 

"There is so little likelihood of my ever being given a choice, 
that I haven't wasted time considering." 

"Pah!" he said, contemptuous on his side now. "You only 
say that because you're too proud to own up what you want 
and can't get." 


"You know me very well," she replied coldly. 

"I know you think you're terrific great shakes, and that you 
live under the eternal insult of working in a factory." 

He was very angry and very rude. She merely turned away 
from him in disdain. He walked whistling down the room, 
flirted and laughed with Hilda. 

Later on he said to himself : 

"What was I so impudent to Clara for?" He was rather 
annoyed with himself, at the same time glad. "Serve her right; 
she stinks with silent pride," he said to himself angrily. 

In the afternoon he came down. There was a certain weight 
on his heart which he wanted to remove. He thought to do it 
by offering her chocolates. 

"Have one?" he said. "I bought a handful to sweeten 
me up." 

To his great relief, she accepted. He sat on the work-bench 
beside her machine, twisting a piece of silk round his finger. 
She loved him for his quick, unexpected movements, like a 
young animal. His feet swung as he pondered. The sweets lay 
strewn on the bench. She bent over her machine, grinding 
rhythmically, then stooping to see the stocking that hung 
beneath, pulled down by the weight. He watched the hand- 
some crouching of her back, and the apron-strings curling on 
the floor. 

"There is always about you," he said, "a sort of waiting. 
Whatever 1 see you doing, you're not really there: you are 
waiting — like Penelope when she did her weaving." He could 
not help a spurt of wickedness. "I'll call you Penelope," he said. 

"Would it make any difference?" she said, carefully re- 
moving one of her needles. 

"That doesn't matter, so long as it pleases me. Here, I say, 
you seem to forget I'm your boss. It just occurs to me." 

"And what does that mean?" she asked coolly. 

"It means I've got a right to boss you." 

"Is there anything you want to complain about?" 

"Oh, 1 say, you needn't be nasty," he said angrily. 

"I don't know what you want," she said, continuing her 

"I want you to treat me nicely and respectfully." 

"Call you 'sir', perhaps?" she asked quietly. 

"Yes, call me 'sir'. I should love it." 

"Then I wish you would go upstairs, sir." 

CLARA 267 

His mouth dosed, and a frown came on his face. He jumped 
suddenly down. 

"You're too blessed superior for anything," he said. 

And he went away to the other girls. He felt he was being 
angrier than he had any need to be. In fact, he doubted slightly 
that he was showing off. But if he were, then he would. Clara 
heard him laughing, in a way she hated, with the girls down 
the next room. 

When at evening he went through the department after the 
girls had gone, he saw his chocolates lying untouched in front 
of Clara's machine. He left them. In the morning they were 
still there, and Clara was at work. Later on Minnie, a little 
brunette they called Pussy, called to him : 

"Hey, haven't you got a chocolate for anybody?" 

"Sorry, Pussy," he replied. "I meant to have offered them; 
then I went and forgot 'em." 

"1 think you did," she answered. 

"I'll bring you some this afternoon. You don't want them 
after they've been lying about, do you?" 

"Oh, I'm not particular," smiled Pussy. 

"Oh no," he said. "They'll be dusty." 

He went up to Clara's bench. 

"Sorry I left these things littering about," he said. 

She flushed scarlet. He gathered them together in his fist. 

"They'll be dirty now," he said. "You should have taken 
them. I wonder why you didn't. I meant to have told you 1 
wanted you to." 

He flung them out of the window into the yard below. He 
just glanced at her. She winced from his eyes. 

In the afternoon he brought another packet. 

"Will you take some?" he said, offering them first to Clara. 
"These are fresh." 

She accepted one, and put it on to the bench. 

"Oh, take several — for luck," he said. 

She took a couple more, and put them on the bench also. 
Then she turned in confusion to her work. He went on up 
the room. 

"Here you are. Pussy," he said. "Don't be greedy!" 

"Are they all for her?" cried the others, rushing up. 

"Of course they're not," he said. 

The girls clamoured round. Pussy drew back from her 


"Come out!" she cried. "I can have first pick, can't I, Paul?" 

"Be nice with 'em/' he said, and went away. 

"You are a dear," the girls cried. 

"Tenpence," he answered. 

He went past Clara without speaking. She felt the three 
chocolate creams would burn her if she touched them. It needed 
all her courage to slip them into the pocket of her apron. 

The girls loved him and were afraid of him. He was so nice 
while he was nice, but if he were offended, so distant, treat- 
ing them as if they scarcely existed, or not more than the 
bobbins of thread. And then, if they were impudent, he said 
quietly : "Do you mind going on with your work," and stood 
and watched. 

When he celebrated his twenty-third birthday, the house 
was in trouble. Arthur was just going to be married. His 
mother was not well. His father, getting an old man, and 
lame from his accidents, was given a paltry, poor job. Miriam 
was an eternal reproach. He felt he owed himself to her, yet 
could not give himself. The house, moreover, needed his sup- 
port. He was pulled in all directions. He was not glad it was 
his birthday. It made him bitter. 

He got to work at eight o'clock. Most of the clerks had not 
turned up. The girls were not due till 8.30. As he was changing 
his coat, he heard a voice behind him say : 

"Paul, Paul, I want you." 

It was Fanny, the hunchback, standing at the top of her 
stairs, her face radiant with a secret. Paul looked at her in 

"I want you," she said. 

He stood, at a loss. 

"Come on," she coaxed. "Come before you begin on the 

He went down the half-dozen steps into her dry, narrow, 
"finishing-off" room. Fanny walked before him: her black 
bodice was short — the waist was under her armpits — and her 
green-black cashmere skirt seemed very long, as she strode 
with big strides before the young man, him^self so graceful. 
She went to her seat at the narrow end of the room, where 
the window opened on to chimney-pots. Paul watched her 
thin hands and her flat red wrists as she excitedly twitched 
her white apron, which was spread on the bench in front of 
her. She hesitated. 

CLARA 269 

"You didn't think we'd forgot you?" she asked, reproachful. 

"Why?" he asked. He had forgotten his birthday himself. 

" 'Why/ he says! 'Why!' Why, look here!" She pointed 
to the calendar, and he saw, surrounding the big black number 
"21", hundreds of little crosses in black-lead. 

"Oh, kisses for my birthday," he laughed. "How did you 

"Yes, you want to know, don't you?" Fanny mocked, 
hugely delighted. "There's one from everybody — except Lady 
Clara — and two from some. But 1 shan't tell you how many 
/ put." 

"Oh, I know, you're spooney," he said. 

"There you are mistaken!" she cried, indignant. "I could 
never be so soft." Her voice was strong and contralto. 

"You always pretend to be such a hard-hearted hussy," he 
laughed. "And you know you're as sentimental " 

"I'd rather be called sentimental than frozen meat," Fanny 
blurted. Paul knew she referred to Clara, and he smiled. 

"Do you say such nasty things about me?" he laughed. 

"No, my duck," the hunchback woman answered, lavishly 
tender. She was thirty-nine. "No, my duck, because you don't 
think yourself a fine figure in marble and us nothing but 
dirt. I'm as good as you, aren't I, Paul?" and the question 
delighted her. 

"Why, we're not better than one another, are we?" he 

"But I'm as good as you, aren't I, Paul?" she persisted 

"Of course you are. If it comes to goodness, you're better." 

She was rather afraid of the situation. She might get 

"I thought I'd get here before the others — ^won't they say 
I'm deep! Now shut your eyes " she said. 

"And open your mouth, and see what God sends you," he 
continued, suiting action to words, and expecting a piece of 
chocolate. He heard the rustle of the apron, and a faint clink 
of metal. "I'm going to look," he said. 

He opened his eyes. Fanny, her long cheeks flushed, her 
blue eyes shining, was gazing at him. There was a little bundle 
of paint-tubes on the bench before him. He turned pale. 

"No, Fanny," he said quickly. 

"From us all," she answered hastily. 


"No, but " 

"Are they the right sort?" she asked, rocking herself with 

"Jove ! they're the best in the catalogue." 

"But they're the right sorts?" she cried. 

"They're off the little list I'd made to get when my ship 
came in." He bit his lip. 

Fanny was overcome with emotion. She must turn the 

"They was all on thorns to do it; they all paid their shares, 
all except the Queen of Sheba." 

The Queen of Sheba was Clara. 

"And wouldn't she join?" Paul asked. 

"She didn't get the chance; we never told her; we wasn't 
going to have her bossing this show. We didn't want her to 

Paul laughed at the woman. He was much moved. At last 
he must go. She was very close to him. Suddenly she flung 
her arms round his neck and kissed him vehemently. 

"1 can give you a kiss to-day," she said apologetically. 
"You've looked so white, it's made my heart ache." 

Paul kissed her, and left her. Her arms were so pitifully 
thin that his heart ached also. 

That day he met Clara as he ran downstairs to wash his 
hands at dinner-time. 

"You have stayed to dinner ! " he exclaimed. It was unusual 
for her. 

"Yes; and I seem to have dined on old surgical-appliance 
stock. I must go out now, or I shall feel stale india-rubber 
right through." 

She lingered. He instantly caught at her wish. 

"You are going anywhere?" he asked. 

They went together up to the Castle. Outdoors she dressed 
very plainly, down to ugliness; indoors she always looked nice. 
She walked with hesitating steps alongside Paul, bowing and 
turning away from him. Dowdy in dress, and drooping, she 
showed to great disadvantage. He could scarcely recognise her 
strong form, that seemed to slumber with power. She appeared 
almost insignificant, drowning her stature in her stoop, as she 
shrank from the public gaze. 

The Castle grounds were very green and fresh. Climbing the 
precipitous ascent, he laughed and chattered, but she was 

CLARA 271 

silent, seeming to brood over something. There was scarcely 
time to go inside the squat, square building that crowns the 
bluff of rock. They leaned upon the wall where the cliff runs 
sheer down to the Park. Below them, in their holes in the 
sandstone, pigeons preened themselves and cooed softly. Away 
down upon the boulevard at the foot of the rock, tiny trees 
stood in their own pools of shadow, and tiny people went 
scurrying about in almost ludicrous importance. 

"You feel as if you could scoop up the folk like tadpoles, 
and have a handful of them," he said. 

She laughed, answering: 

"Yes; it is not necessary to get far off in order to see us 
proportionately. The trees are much more significant." 

"Bulk only," he said. 

She laughed cynically. 

Away beyond the boulevard the thin stripes of the metals 
showed upon the railway-track, whose margin was crowded 
with little stacks of timber, beside which smoking toy engines 
fussed. Then the silver string of the canal lay at random among 
the black heaps. Beyond, the dwellings, very dense on the 
river flat, looked like black, poisonous herbage, in thick rows 
and crowded beds, stretching right away, broken now and 
then by taller plants, right to where the river glistened in a 
hieroglyph across the country. The steep scarp cliffs across 
the river looked puny. Great stretches of country darkened 
with trees and faintly brightened with corn-land, spread to- 
wards the haze, where the hills rose blue beyond grey. 

"It is comforting," said Mrs. Dawes, "to think the town goes 
no farther. It is only a little sore upon the country yet." 

"A little scab," Paul said. 

She shivered. She loathed the town. Looking drearily across 
at the country which was forbidden her, her impassive face, 
pale and hostile, she reminded Paul of one of the bitter, re- 
morseful angels. 

"But the town's all right," he said; "it's only temporary. 
This is the crude, clumsy make-shift we've practised on, till we 
find out what the idea is. The town will come all right." 

The pigeons in the pockets of rock, among the perched 
bushes, cooed comfortably. To the left the large church of 
St. Mary rose into space, to keep close company with the 
Castle, above the heaped rubble of the town. Mrs. Dawes 
smiled brightly as she looked across the country. 


"I feel better/' she said. 

"Thank you," he replied. "Great compliment!" 

"Oh, my brother!" she laughed. 

"H'm! that's snatching back with the left hand what you 
gave with the right, and no mistake," he said. 

She laughed in amusement at him. 

'But what was the matter with you?" he asked. "1 know 
you were brooding something special. I can see the stamp of 
it on your face yet." 

"I think I will not tell you," she said. 

"All right, hug it," he answered. 

She flushed and bit her lip. 

"No," she said, "it was the girls." 

"What about 'em?" Paul asked. 

*'They have been plotting something for a week now, and to- 
day they seem particularly full of it. All alike; they insult me 
with their secrecy." 

"Do they?" he asked in concern. 

"I should not mind," she went on, in the metallic, angry 
tone, "if they did not thrust it into my face — the fact that 
they have a secret." 

"Just like women," said he. 

"It is hateful, their mean gloating," she said intensely. 

Paul was silent. He knew what the girls gloated over. He 
was sorry to be the cause of this new dissension. 

"They can have all the secrets in the world," she went on, 
brooding bitterly; "but they might refrain from glorying in 
them, and making me feel more out of it than ever. It is — 
it is almost unbearable." 

Paul thought for a few minutes. He was much perturbed. 

"I will tell you what it's all about," he said, pale and nervous. 
"It's my birthday, and they've bought me a fine lot of paints, 
all the girls. They're jealous of you" — he felt her stiffen coldly 
at the word 'jealous' — "merely because I sometimes bring you 
a book," he added slowly. "But, you see, it's only a trifle. 
Don't bother about it, will you — ^because" — he laughed quickly 
— "well, what would they say if they saw us here now, in 
spite of their victory?" 

She was angry with him for his clumsy reference to their 
present intimacy. It was almost insolent of him. Yet he was 
so quiet, she forgave him, although it cost her an effort. 

Their two hands lay on the rough stone parapet of the Castle 

CLARA 273 

wall. He had inherited from his mother a fineness of mould, 
so that his hands were small and vigorous. Hers were large, 
to match her large limbs, but white and powerful looking. As 
Paul looked at them he knew her. "She is wanting somebody 
to take her hands — for all she is so contemptuous of us," he 
said to himself. And she saw nothing but his two hands, so 
warm and alive, which seemed to live for her. He was brood- 
ing now, staring out over the country from under sullen brows. 
The little, interesting diversity of shapes had vanished from 
the scene; all that remained was a vast, dark matrix of sorrow 
and tragedy, the same in all the houses and the river-flats and 
the people and the birds; they were only shapen differently. 
And now that the forms seemed to have melted away, there 
remained the mass from which all the landscape was com- 
posed, a dark mass of struggle and pain. The factory, the girls, 
his mother, the large, uplifted church, the thicket of the town, 
merged into one atmosphere — dark, brooding, and sorrowful, 
every bit. 

"Is that two o'clock striking?" Mrs. Dawes said in surprise. 

Paul started, and everything sprang into form, regained its 
individuality, its forgetfulness, and its cheerfulness. 

They hurried back to work. 

When he was in the rush of preparing for the night's post, 
examining the work up from Fanny's room, which smelt of 
ironing, the evening postman came in. 

" 'Mr. Paul Morel,' " he said, smiling, handing Paul a package. 
"A lady's handwriting! Don't let the girls see it." 

The postman, himself a favourite, was pleased to make fun 
of the girls' affection for Paul. 

It was a volume of verse with a brief note : "You will allow 
me to send you this, and so spare me my isolation. 1 also 
sympathise and wish you well. — CD." Paul flushed hot. 

"Good Lord! Mrs. Dawes. She can't afford it. Good Lord, 
who ever'd have thought it!" 

He was suddenly intensely moved. He was filled with the 
warmth of her. In the glow he could almost feel her as if she 
were present — her arms, her shoulders, her bosom, see them, 
feel them, almost contain them. 

This move on the part of Clara brought them into closer 
intimacy. The other girls noticed that when Paul met Mrs. 
Dawes his eyes lifted and gave that peculiar bright greeting 
which they could interpret. Knowing he was unaware, Clara 


made no sign, save that occasionally she turned aside her face 
from him when he came upon her. 

They walked out together very often at dinner-time; it was 
quite open, quite frank. Everybody seemed to feel that he 
was quite unaware of the state of his own feeling, and that 
nothing was wrong. He talked to her now with some of the 
old fervour with which he had talked to Miriam, but he cared 
less about the talk; he did not bother about his conclusions. 

One day in October they went out to Lambley for tea. 
Suddenly they came to a halt on top of the hill. He climbed 
and sat on a gate, she sat on the stile. The afternoon was 
perfectly still, with a dim haze, and yellow sheaves glowing 
through. They were quiet. 

"How old were you when you married?" he asked quietly. 


Her voice was subdued, almost submissive. She would tell 
him now. 

"It is eight years ago?" 


"And when did you leave him?" 

"Three years ago." 

"Five years! Did you love him when you married him?" 

She was silent for some time; then she said slowly : 

"I thought I did — more or less. 1 didn't think much about it. 
And he wanted me. I was very prudish then." 

"And you sort of walked into it without thinking?" 

"Yes. 1 seemed to have been asleep nearly all my life." 

"Somnambule? But — when did you wake up?" 

"1 don't know that I ever did, or ever have — since 1 was a 

"You went to sleep as you grew to be a woman? How 
queer! And he didn't wake you?" 

"No; he never got there," she replied, in a monotone. 

The brown birds dashed over the hedges where the rose-hips 
stood naked and scarlet. 

"Got where?" he asked. 

"At me. He never really mattered to me." 

The afternoon was so gently warm and dim. Red roofs of 
the cottages burned among the blue haze. He loved the day. 
He could feel, but he could not understand, what Clara was 

"But why did you leave him? Was he horrid to you?" 

CLARA 275 

She shuddered lightly. 

"He — he sort of degraded me. He wanted to bully me be- 
cause he hadn't got me. And then I felt as if I wanted to run, 
as if I was fastened and bound up. And he seemed dirty." 
I see. 

He did not at all see. 

"And was he always dirty?" he asked. 

"A bit/' she replied slowly. "And then he seemed as if he 
couldn't get at me, really. And then he got brutal — he was 

"And why did you leave him finally?" 

"Because — because he was unfaithful to me " 

They were both silent for some time. Her hand lay on the 
gate-post as she balanced. He put his own over it. His heart 
beat quickly. 

"But did you — were you ever — did you ever give him a 

"Chance? How?" 

"To come near to you." 

"I married him — and I was willing " 

They both strove to keep their voices steady. 

"I believe he loves you," he said. 

"It looks like it," she replied. 

He wanted to take his hand away, and could not. She saved 
him by removing her own. After a silence, he began again : 

"Did you leave him out of count all along?" 

"He left me," she said. 

"And I suppose he couldn't make himself mean everything 
to you?" 

"He tried to bully me into it." 

But the conversation had got them both out of their depth. 
Suddenly Paul jumped down. 

"Come on," he said. "Let's go and get some tea." 

They found a cottage, where they sat in the cold parlour. 
She poured out his tea. She was very quiet. He felt she had 
withdrawn again from him. After tea, she stared broodingly 
into her tea-cup, twisting her wedding ring all the time. In 
her abstraction she took the ring off her finger, stood it up, 
and spun it upon the table. The gold became a diaphanous, 
glittering globe. It fell, and the ring was quivering upon the 
table. She spun it again and again. Paul watched, fascinated. 

But she was a married woman, and he believed in simple 


friendship. And he considered that he was perfectly honour- 
able with regard to her. It was only a friendship between man 
and woman, such as any civilised persons might have. 

He was like so many young men of his own age. Sex had 
become so complicated in him that he would have denied that 
he ever could want Clara or Miriam or any woman whom he 
knew. Sex desire was a sort of detached thing, that did not 
belong to a woman. He loved Miriam vnth his soul. He grew 
warm at the thought of Clara, he battled with her, he knew 
the curves of her breast and shoulders as if they had been 
moulded inside him; and yet he did not positively desire her. 
He would have denied it for ever. He believed himself really 
bound to Miriam. If ever he should marry, some time in the 
far future, it would be his duty to marry Miriam. That he gave 
Clara to understand, and she said nothing, but left him to his 
courses. He came to her, Mrs. Dawes, whenever he could. Then 
he wrote frequently to Miriam, and visited the girl occasion- 
ally. So he went on through the winter; but he seemed not 
so fretted. His mother was easier about him. She thought he 
was getting away from Miriam. 

Miriam knew now how strong was the attraction of Clara 
for him; but still she was certain that the best in him would 
triumph. His feeling for Mrs. Dawes — who, moreover, was a 
married woman — was shallow and temporal, compared with 
his love for herself. He would come back to her, she was sure; 
with some of his young freshness gone, perhaps, but cured of 
his desire for the lesser things which other women than her- 
self could give him. She could bear all if he were inwardly 
true to her and must come back. 

He saw none of the anomaly of his position. Miriam was 
his old friend, lover, and she belonged to Bestwood and home 
and his youth. Clara was a newer friend, and she belonged 
to Nottingham, to life, to the world. It seemed to him quite 

Mrs. Dawes and he had many periods of coolness, when they 
saw little of each other; but they always came together again. 

"Were you horrid with Baxter Dawes?" he asked her. It 
was a thing that seemed to trouble him. 

"In what way?" 

VOh, I don't know. But weren't you horrid with him? 
Didn't you do something that knocked him to pieces?" 

"What, pray?" 

CLARA 277 

"Making him feel as if he were nothing — I know," Paul 

"You are so clever, my friend," she said coolly. 

The conversation broke off there. But it made her cool with 
him for some time. 

She very rarely saw Miriam now. The friendship between 
the two women was not broken off, but considerably weakened. 

"Will you come in to the concert on Sunday afternoon?" 
Clara asked him just after Christmas. 

"I promised to go up to Willey Farm," he replied. 

"Oh, very well." 

"You don't mind, do you?" he asked. 

"Why should 1?" she answered. 

Which almost annoyed him. 

"You know," he said, "Miriam and I have been a lot to each 
other ever since I was sixteen — ^that's seven years now." 

"It's a long time," Clara replied. 

"Yes; but somehow she — it doesn't go right " 

"How?" asked Clara. 

"She seems to draw me and draw me, and she wouldn't 
leave a single hair of me free to fall out and blow away — ^she'd 
keep it." 

"But you like to be kept." 

"No," he said, "1 don't. I wish it could be normal, give and 
take — ^like me and you. I want a woman to keep me, but not 
in her pocket." 

"But if you love her, it couldn't be normal, like me and 

"Yes; 1 should love her better then. She sort of wants me 
so much that I can't give myself." 

"Wants you how?" 

"Wants the soul out of my body. I can't help shrinking 
back from her." 

"And yet you love her!" 

"No, 1 don't love her. I never even kiss her." 

"Why not?" Clara asked. 

"I don't know." 

"I suppose you're afraid," she said. 

"I'm not. Something in me shrinks from her like hell — she 
so good, when I'm not good." 

"How do you know what she is?" 

"I do ! I know she wants a sort of soul union." 


"But how do you know what she wants?" 
"I've been with her for seven years." 

"And you haven't found out the very first thing about her." 
"What's that?" 

"That she doesn't want any of your soul communion. That's 
your own imagination. She wants you." 

He pondered over this. Perhaps he was wrong. 

"But she seems " he began. 

"You've never tried," she answered. 



With the spring came again the old madness and battle. Now 
he knew he vs^ould have to go to Miriam. But what was his 
reluctance? He told himself it was only a sort of overstrong 
virginity in her and him which neither could break through. 
He might have married her; but his circumstances at home 
made it difficult, and, moreover, he did not want to marry. 
Marriage was for life, and because they had become close com- 
panions, he and she, he did not see that it should inevitably 
follow they should be man and wife. He did not feel that he 
wanted marriage with Miriam. He wished he did. He would 
have given his head to have felt a joyous desire to marry her 
and to have her. Then why couldn't he bring it off? There 
was some obstacle; and what was the obstacle? It lay in the 
physical bondage. He shrank from the physical contact. But 
why? With her he felt bound up inside himself. He could 
not go out to her. Something struggled in him, but he could 
not get to her. Why? She loved him. Clara said she even 
wanted him; then why couldn't he go to her, make love to her, 
kiss her? Why, when she put her arm in his, timidly, as they 
walked, did he feel he would burst forth in brutality and re- 
coil? He owed himself to her; he wanted to belong to her. 
Perhaps the recoil and the shrinking from her was love in its 
first fierce modesty. He had no aversion for her. No, it was 
the opposite; it was a strong desire battling with a still stronger 
shyness and virginity. It seemed as if virginity were a positive 
force, which fought and won in both of them. And wdth her 
he felt it so hard to overcome; yet he was nearest to her, and 


with her alone could he deliberately break through. And he 
owed himself to her. Then, if they could get things right, they 
could marry; but he would not marry unless he could feel 
strong in the joy of it — never. He could not have faced his 
mother. It seemed to him that to sacrifice himself in a marriage 
he did not want would be degrading, and would undo all his 
life, make it a nullity. He would try what he could do. 

And he had a great tenderness for Miriam. Always, she was 
sad, dreaming her religion; and he was nearly a religion to 
her. He could not bear to fail her. It would all come right 
if they tried. 

He looked round. A good many of the nicest men he knew 
were like himself, bound in by their own virginity, which they 
could not break out of. They were so sensitive to their women 
that they would go without them for ever rather than do them 
a hurt, an injustice. Being the sons of mothers whose husbands 
had blundered rather brutally through their feminine sancti- 
ties, they were themselves too diffident and shy. They could 
easier deny themselves than incur any reproach from a woman; 
for a woman was like their mother, and they were full of the 
sense of their mother. They preferred themselves to suifer the 
misery of celibacy, rather than risk the other person. 

He went back to her. Something in her, when he looked at 
her, brought the tears almost to his eyes. One day he stood 
behind her as she sang. Annie was playing a song on the 
piano. As Miriam sang her mouth seemed hopeless. She sang 
like a nun singing to heaven. It reminded him so much of 
the mouth and eyes of one who sings beside a Botticelli 
Madonna, so spiritual. Again, hot as steel, came up the pain 
in him. Why must he ask her for the other thing? Why was 
there his blood battling with her? If only he could have been 
always gentle, tender with her, breathing with her the atmos- 
phere of reverie and religious dreams, he would give his right 
hand. It was not fair to hurt her. There seemed an eternal 
maidenhood about her; and when he thought of her mother, 
he saw the great brown eyes of a maiden who was nearly 
scared and shocked out of her virgin maidenhood, but not 
quite, in spite of her seven children. They had been born 
almost leaving her out of count, not of her, but upon her. So 
she could never let them go, because she never had possessed 

Mrs. Morel saw him going again frequently to Miriam, and 


was astonished. He said nothing to his mother. He did not 
explain nor excuse himself. If he came home late, and she 
reproached him, he frowned and turned on her in an over- 
bearing way : 

"I shall come home when I like," he said; "I am old enough." 

"Must she keep you till this time?" 

"It is I who stay," he answered. 

"And she lets you? But very well," she said. 

And she went to bed, leaving the door unlocked for him; but 
she lay listening until he came, often long after. It was a great 
bitterness to her that he had gone back to Miriam. She recog- 
nised, however, the uselessness of any further interference. 
He went to Willey Farm as a man now, not as a youth. She 
had no right over him. There was a coldness between him 
and her. He hardly told her anything. Discarded, she waited 
on him, cooked for him still, and loved to slave for him; but 
her face closed again like a mask. There was nothing for her 
to do now but the housework; for all the rest he had gone to 
Miriam. She could not forgive him. Miriam killed the joy and 
the warmth in him. He had been such a jolly lad, and full of 
the warmest affection; now he grew colder, more and more 
irritable and gloomy. It reminded her of William; but Paul 
was worse. He did things with more intensity, and more 
realisation of what he was about. His mother knew how he 
was suffering for want of a woman, and she saw him going to 
Miriam. If he had made up his mind, nothing on earth would 
alter him. Mrs. Morel was tired. She began to give up at last; 
she had finished. She was in the way. 

He went on determinedly. He realised more or less what 
his mother felt. It only hardened his soul. He made himself 
callous towards her; but it was like being callous to his own 
health. It undermined him quickly; yet he persisted. 

He lay back in the rocking-chair at Willey Farm one evening. 
He had been talking to Miriam for some weeks, but had not 
come to the point. Now he said suddenly : 

"I am twenty-four, almost." 

She had been brooding. She looked up at him suddenly in 

"Yes. What makes you say it?" 

There was something in the charged atmosphere that she 

"Sir Thomas More says one can marry at twenty-four." 


She laughed quaintly, saying: 

"Does it need Sir Thomas More's sanction?" 

"No; but one ought to marry about then." 

"Ay," she answered broodingly; and she waited. 

"I can't marry you," he continued slowly, "not now, be 
cause we've no money, and they depend on me at home." 

She sat half-guessing what was coming. 

"But I want to marry now " 

"You want to marry?" she repeated. 

"A woman — you know what I mean." 

She was silent. 

"Now, at last, I must," he said. 

"Ay," she answered. 

"And you love me?" 

She laughed bitterly. 

"Why are you ashamed of it," he answered. "You wouldn't 
be ashamed before your God, why are you before people?" 

"Nay," she answered deeply, "I am not ashamed." 

"You are," he replied bitterly; "and it's my fault. But you 
know I can't help being — as I am — don't you?" 

"I know you can't help it," she replied. 

"I love you an awful lot — ^then there is something short." 

"Where?" she answered, looking at him. 

"Oh, in me ! It is I who ought to be ashamed — like a spiritual 
cripple. And I am ashamed. It is misery. Why is it?" 

"1 don't know," replied Miriam. 

"And I don't know," he repeated. "Don't you think we have 
been too fierce in our what they call purity? Don't you think 
that to be so much afraid and averse is a sort of dirtiness?" 

She looked at him with startled dark eyes. 

"You recoiled away from anything of the sort, and I took 
the motion from you, and recoiled also, perhaps worse." 

There was silence in the room for some time. 

"Yes," she said, "it is so." 

"There is between us," he said, "all these years of intimacy. 
I feel naked enough before you. Do you understand?" 

"I think so," she answered. 

"And you love me?" 

She laughed. 

"Don't be bitter," he pleaded. 

She looked at him and was sorry for him; his eyes were dark 
with torture. She was sorry for him; it was worse for him to 


have this deflated love than for herself, who could never be 
properly mated. He was restless, for ever urging forward and 
trying to find a way out. He might do as he liked, and have 
what he liked of her. 

"Nay," she said softly, "I am not bitter." 

She felt she could bear anything for him; she would suffer 
for him. She put her hand on his knee as he leaned forward in 
his chair. He took it and kissed it; but it hurt to do so. He 
felt he was putting himself aside. He sat there sacrificed to 
her purity, which felt more like nullity. How could he kiss her 
hand passionately, when it would drive her away, and leave 
nothing but pain? Yet slowly he drew her to him and kissed 

They knew each other too well to pretend anything. As she 
kissed him, she watched his eyes; they were staring across the 
room, with a peculiar dark blaze in them that fascinated her. 
He was perfectly still. She could feel his heart throbbing 
heavily in his breast. 

"What are you thinking about?" she asked. 

The blaze in his eyes shuddered, became uncertain. 

"I was thinking, all the while, I love you. 1 have been 

She sank her head on his breast. 

"Yes," she answered. 

"That's all," he said, and his voice seemed sure, and his mouth 
was kissing her throat. 

Then she raised her head and looked into his eyes with her 
full gaze of love. The blaze struggled, seemed to try to get 
away from her, and then was quenched. He turned his head 
quickly aside. It was a moment of anguish. 

"Kiss me," she whispered. 

He shut his eyes, and kissed her, and his arms folded her 
closer and closer. 

When she walked home with him over the fields, he said: 

"I am glad I came back to you. 1 feel so simple with you — 
as if there was nothing to hide. We will be happy?" 

"Yes," she murmured, and the tears came to her eyes. 

"Some sort of perversity in our souls," he said, "makes us 
not want, get away from, the very thing we want. We have 
to fight against that." 

"Yes," she said, and she felt stunned. 

As she stood under the drooping-thorn tree, in the darkness 


by the roadside, he kissed her, and his fingers wandered over 
her face. In the darkness, where he could not see her but only 
ieel her, his passion flooded him. He clasped her very close. 

"Sometime you will have me?" he murmured, hiding his face 
on her shoulder. It was so difficult. 

"Not now," she said. 

His hopes and his heart sunk. A dreariness came over him. 

"No," he said. 

His clasp of her slackened. 

"I love to feel your arm there I" she said, pressing his arm 
against her back, where it went round her waist. "It rests 
me so." 

He tightened the pressure of his arm upon the small of her 
back to rest her. 

"We belong to each other," he said. 


"Then why shouldn't we belong to each other altogether?" 

"But " she faltered. 

"1 know it's a lot to ask," he said; "but there's not much risk 
for you really — not in the Gretchen way. You can trust me 

"Oh, I can trust you." The answer came quick and strong. 
"It's not that— it's not that at all— but " 


She hid her face in his neck with a little cry of misery. 

"I don't know ! " she cried. 

She seemed slightly hysterical, but with a sort of horror. His 
heart died in him. 

"You don't think it ugly?" he asked. 

"No, not now. You have taught me it isn't." 

"You are afraid?" 

She calmed herself hastily. 

"Yes, I am only afraid," she said. 

He kissed her tenderly. 

"Never mind," he said. "You should please yourself." 

Suddenly she gripped his arms round her, and clenched her 
body stiff. 

"You shall have me," she said, through her shut teeth. 

His heart beat up again like fire. He folded her close, and 
his mouth was on her throat. She could not bear it. She drew 
away. He disengaged her. 

"Won't you be late?" she asked gently. 


He sighed, scarcely hearing what she said. She waited, wish- 
ing he would go. At last he kissed her quickly and climbed 
the fence. Looking round he saw the pale blotch of her face 
down in the darkness under the hanging tree. There was no 
more of her but this pale blotch. 

"Good-bye ! " she called softly. She had no body, only a voice 
and a dim face. He turned away and ran down the road, his 
fists clenched; and when he came to the wall over the lake he 
leaned there, almost stunned, looking up the black water. 

Miriam plunged home over the meadows. She was not afraid 
of people, what they might say; but she dreaded the issue with 
him. Yes, she would let him have her if he insisted; and then, 
when she thought of it afterwards, her heart went down. He 
would be disappointed, he would find no satisfaction, and then 
he would go away. Yet he was so insistent; and over this, 
which did not seem so all-important to her, was their love to 
break down. After all, he was only like other men, seeking his 
satisfaction. Oh, but there was something more in him, some- 
thing deeper! She could trust to it, in spite of all desires. He 
said that possession was a great moment in life. All strong 
emotions concentrated there. Perhaps it was so. There was 
something divine in it; then she would submit, religiously, to 
the sacrifice. He should have her. And at the thought her 
whole body clenched itself involuntarily, hard, as if against 
something; but Life forced her through this gate of suffering, 
too, and she would submit. At any rate, it would give him 
what he wanted, which was her deepest wish. She brooded and 
brooded and brooded herself towards accepting him. 

He courted her now like a lover. Often, when he grew hot, 
she put his face from her, held it between her hands, and looked 
in his eyes. He could not meet her gaze. Her dark eyes, full 
of love, earnest and searching, made him turn away. Not for 
an instant would she let him forget. Back again he had to 
torture himself into a sense of his responsibility and hers. Never 
any relaxing, never any leaving himself to the great hunger 
and impersonality of passion; he must be brought back to a 
deliberate, reflective creature. As if from a swoon of passion 
she called him back to the littleness, the personal relationship. 
He could not bear it. "Leave me alone — leave me alone!" he 
wanted to cry; but she wanted him to look at her with eyes 
full of love. His eyes, full of the dark, impersonal fire of desire, 
did not belong to her. 


There was a great crop of cherries at the farm. The trees at 
the back of the house, very large and tall, hung thick with 
scarlet and crimson drops, under the dark leaves. Paul and 
Edgar were gathering the fruit one evening. It had been a hot 
day, and now the clouds were rolling in the sky, dark and 
warm. Paul climbed high in the tree, above the scarlet roofs 
of the buildings. The wind, moaning steadily, made the whole 
tree rock with a subtle, thrilling motion that stirred the blood. 
The young man, perched insecurely in the slender branches, 
rocked till he felt slightly drunk, reached down the boughs, 
where the scarlet beady cherries hung thick underneath, and 
tore off handful after handful of the sleek, cool-fleshed fruit. 
Cherries touched his ears and his neck as he stretched forward, 
their chill finger-tips sending a flash down his blood. All shades 
of red, from a golden vermilion to a rich crimson, glowed and 
met his eyes under a darkness of leaves. 

The sun, going down, suddenly caught the broken clouds. 
Immense piles of gold flared out in the south-east, heaped in 
soft, glowing yellow right up the sky. The world, till now 
dusk and grey, reflected the gold glow, astonished. Everywhere 
the trees, and the grass, and the far-off water, seemed roused 
from the twilight and shining. 

Miriam came out wondering. 

"Oh!" Paul heard her mellow voice call, "isn't it wonderful?" 

He looked down. There was a faint gold glimmer on her 
face, that looked very soft, turned up to him. 

"How high you are!" she said. 

Beside her, on the rhubarb leaves, were four dead birds, 
thieves that had been shot. Paul saw some cherry stones hang- 
ing quite bleached, like skeletons, picked clear of flesh. He 
looked down again to Miriam. 

"Clouds are on fire," he said. 

"Beautiful ! " she cried. 

She seemed so small, so soft, so tender, down there. He threw 
a handful of cherries at her. She was startled and frightened. 
He laughed with a low, chuckling sound, and pelted her. She 
ran for shelter, picking up some cherries. Two fine red pairs 
she hung over her ears; then she looked up again. 

"Haven't you got enough?" she asked. 

"Nearly. It is like being on a ship up here." 

"And how long wiU you stay?" 

"While the sunset lasts." 


She went to the fence and sat there, watching the gold clouds 
fall to pieces, and go in immense, rose-coloured ruin towards 
the darkness. Gold flamed to scarlet, like pain in its intense 
brightness. Then the scarlet sank to rose, and rose to crimson, 
and quickly the passion went out of the sky. All the world 
was dark grey. Paul scrambled quickly down with his basket, 
tearing his shirt-sleeve as he did so. 

"They are lovely," said Miriam, fingering the cherries. 

'Tve torn my sleeve," he answered. 

She took the three-cornered rip, saying : 

"I shall have to mend it." It was near the shoulder. She put 
her fingers through the tear. "How warm!" she said. 

He laughed. There was a new, strange note in his voice, one 
that made her pant. 

"Shall we stay out?" he said. 

"Won't it rain?" she asked. 

"No, let us walk a little way." 

They went down the fields and into the thick plantation of 
fir-trees and pines. 

"Shall we go in among the trees?" he asked. 

"Do you want to?" 


It was very dark among the firs, and the sharp spines pricked 
her face. She was afraid. Paul was silent and strange. 

"I like the darkness," he said. "1 wish it were thicker — ^good, 
thick darkness." 

He seemed to be almost unaware of her as a person: she 
was only to him then a woman. She was afraid. 

He stood against a pine-tree trunk and took her in his arms. 
She relinquished herself to him, but it was a sacrifice in which 
she felt something of horror. This thick-voiced, oblivious man 
was a stranger to her. 

Later it began to rain. The pine-trees smelled very strong. 
Paul lay with his head on the ground, on the dead pine needles, 
listening to the sharp hiss of the rain — a steady, keen noise. 
His heart was down, very heavy. Now he realised that she 
had not been with him all the time, that her soul had stood 
apart, in a sort of horror. He was physically at rest, but no 
more. Very dreary at heart, very sad, and very tender, his 
fingers wandered over her face pitifully. Now again she loved 
him deeply. He was tender and beautiful. 

"The rain!" he said. 


"Yes — is it coming on you?" 

She put her hands over him, on his hair, on his shoulders, to 
feel if the raindrops fell on him. She loved him dearly. He, as 
he lay with his face on the dead pine-leaves, felt extraordinarily 
quiet. He did not mind if the raindrops came on him: he 
would have lain and got wet through: he felt as if nothing 
mattered, as if his living were smeared away into the beyond, 
near and quite lovable. This strange, gentle reaching-out to 
death was new to him. 

"We must go," said Miriam. 

"Yes," he answered, but did not move. 

To him now, life seemed a shadow, day a white shadow; 
night, and death, and stillness, and inaction, this seemed like 
being. To be alive, to be urgent and insistent — that was not-to- 
be. The highest of all was to melt out into the darkness and 
sway there, identified with the great Being. 

"The rain is coming in on us," said Miriam. 

He rose, and assisted her. 

"It is a pity," he said. 


"To have to go. I feel so still." 

"Still!" she repeated. 

"Stiller than 1 have ever been in my life." 

He was walking with his hand in hers. She pressed his 
fingers, feeling a slight fear. Now he seemed beyond her; she 
had a fear lest she should lose him. 

"The fir-trees are like presences on the darkness: each one 
only a presence." 

She was afraid, and said nothing. 

"A sort of hush : the whole night wondering and asleep : I 
suppose that's what we do in death — sleep in wonder." 

She had been afraid before of the brute in him : now of the 
mystic. She trod beside him in silence. The rain fell with a 
heavy "Hush!" on the trees. At last they gained the cart-shed. 

"Let us stay here awhile," he said. 

There was a sound of rain everywhere, smothering every- 

"I feel so strange and still," he said; "along with everything." 

"Ay," she answered patiently. 

He seemed again unaware of her, though he held her hand 

"To be rid of our individuality, which is our will, which is 


our effort — to live effortless, a kind of curious sleep — ^that is 
very beautiful, 1 think; that is our after-life — our immortality." 


"Yes — and very beautiful to have." 

"You don't usually say that." 


In a while they went indoors. Everybody looked at them 
curiously. He still kept the quiet, heavy look in his eyes, the 
stillness in his voice. Instinctively, they all left him alone. 

About this time Miriam's grandmother, who lived in a tiny 
cottage in Woodlinton, fell ill, and the girl was sent to keep 
house. It was a beautiful little place. The cottage had a big 
garden in front, with red brick walls, against which the plum 
trees were nailed. At the back another garden was separated 
from the fields by a tall old hedge. It was very pretty. Miriam 
had not much to do, so she found time for her beloved read- 
ing, and for writing little introspective pieces which interested 

At the holiday-time her grandmother, being better, was 
driven to Derby to stay with her daughter for a day or two. 
She was a crotchety old lady, and might return the second 
day or the third; so Miriam stayed alone in the cottage, which 
also pleased her. 

Paul used often to cycle over, and they had as a rule peaceful 
and happy times. He did not embarrass her much; but then on 
the Monday of the holiday he was to spend a whole day with 

It was perfect weather. He left his mother, telling her where 
he was going. She would be alone all the day. It cast a shadow 
over him; but he had three days that were all his own, when 
he was going to do as he liked. It was sweet to rush through 
the morning lanes on his bicycle. 

He got to the cottage at about eleven o'clock. Miriam was 
busy preparing dinner. She looked so perfectly in keeping with 
the little kitchen, ruddy and busy. He kissed her and sat down 
to watch. The room was small and cosy. The sofa was covered 
all over with a sort of linen in squares of red and pale blue, old, 
much washed, but pretty. There was a stuffed owl in a case 
over a corner cupboard. The sunlight came through the leaves 
of the scented geraniums in the window. She was cooking a 
chicken in his honour. It was their cottage for the day, and 
they were man and wife. He beat the eggs for her and peeled 


the potatoes. He thought she gave a feeling of home almost 
like his mother; and no one could look more beautiful, with 
her tumbled curls, when she was flushed from the fire. 

The dinner was a great success. Like a young husband, he 
carved. They talked all the time with unflagging zest. Then 
he wiped the dishes she had washed, and they went out down 
the fields. There was a bright little brook that ran into a bog 
at the foot of a very steep bank. Here they wandered, picking 
still a few marsh-marigolds and many big blue forget-me-nots. 
Then she sat on the bank with her hands full of flowers, mostly 
golden water-blobs. As she put her face down into the mari- 
golds, it was all overcast with a yellow shine. 

"Your face is bright," he said, "like a transfiguration." 

She looked at him, questioning. He laughed pleadingly to 
her, laying his hands on hers. Then he kissed her fingers, then 
her face. 

The world was all steeped in sunshine, and quite still, yet not 
asleep, but quivering with a kind of expectancy. 

"I have never seen anything more beautiful than this," he 
said. He held her hand fast all the time. 

"And the water singing to itself as it runs — do you love it?" 
She looked at him full of love. His eyes were very dark, very 

"Don't you think it's a great day?" he asked. 

She murmured her assent. She was happy, and he saw it. 

"And our day — just between us," he said. 

They lingered a little while. Then they stood up upon the 
sweet thyme, and he looked down at her simply. 

"Will you come?" he asked. 

They went back to the house, hand in hand, in silence. The 
chickens came scampering down the path to her. He locked 
the door, and they had the little house to themselves. 

He never forgot seeing her as she lay on the bed, when he 
was unfastening his collar. First he saw only her beauty, and 
was blind with it. She had the most beautiful body he had ever 
imagined. He stood unable to move or speak, looking at her, 
his face half-smiling with wonder. And then he wanted her, 
but as he went forward to her, her hands lifted in a little plead- 
ing movement, and he looked at her face, and stopped. Her big 
brown eyes were watching him, still and resigned and loving; 
she lay as if she had given herself up to sacrifice : there was her 
body for him; but the look at the back of her eyes, like a 


creature awaiting immolation, arrested him, and all his blood 
fell back. 

"You are sure you want me?" he asked, as if a cold shadow 
had come over him. 

"Yes, quite sure." 

She was very quiet, very calm. She only realised that she was 
doing something for him. He could hardly bear it. She lay to 
be sacrificed for him because she loved him so much. And he 
had to sacrifice her. For a second, he wished he were sexless 
or dead. Then he shut his eyes again to her, and his blood beat 
back again. 

And afterwards he loved her — loved her to the last fibre of 
his being. He loved her. But he wanted, somehow, to cry. 
There was something he could not bear for her sake. He stayed 
with her till quite late at night. As he rode home he felt that 
he was finally initiated. He was a youth no longer. But why 
had he the dull pain in his soul ? Why did the thought of deatli, 
the after-life, seem so sweet and consoling? 

He spent the week with Miriam, and wore her out with his 
passion before it was gone. He had always, almost wilfully, to 
put her out of count, and act from the brute strength of his 
own feelings. And he could not do it often, and there remained 
afterwards always the sense of failure and of death. If he were 
really v^th her, he had to put aside himself and his desire. If 
he would have her, he had to put her aside. 

"When 1 come to you," he asked her, his eyes dark with 
pain and shame, "you don't really want me, do you?" 

"Ah, yes!" she replied quickly. 

He looked at her. 

"Nay," he said. 

She began to tremble. 

"You see," she said, taking his face and shutting it out against 
her shoulder — "you see — as we are — how can I get used to 
you ? It would come all right if we were married." 

He lifted her head, and looked at her. 

"You mean, now, it is always too much shock?" 

"Yes— and " 

"You are always clenched against me." 

She was trembling with agitation. 

"You see," she said, "I'm not used to the thought " 

"You are lately," he said. 

"But all my life. Mother said to me : There is one thing in 


marriage that is always dreadful, but you have to bear it.' And 
I believed it." 

"And still believe it," he said. 

"No!" she cried hastily. "I believe, as you do, that loving, 
even in that way, is the high- water mark of living." 

"That doesn't alter the fact that you never want it." 

"No," she said, taking his head in her arms and rocking in 
despair. "Don't say so! You don't understand." She rocked 
with pain. "Don't I want your children?" 

"But not me." 

"How can you say so? But we must be married to have 
children " 

"Shall we be married, then? / want you to have my children." 

He kissed her hand reverently. She pondered sadly, watching 

"We are too young," she said at length. 

"Twenty-four and twenty-three " 

"Not yet," she pleaded, as she rocked herself in distress. 

"When you will," he said. 

She bowed her head gravely. The tone of hopelessness in 
which he said these things grieved her deeply. It had always 
been a failure between them. Tacitly, she acquiesced in what 
he felt. 

And after a week of love he said to his mother suddenly one 
Sunday night, just as they were going to bed : 

"I shan't go so much to Miriam's, mother." 

She was surprised, but she would not ask him anything. 

"You please yourself," she said. 

So he went to bed. But there was a new quietness about him 
which she had wondered at. She almost guessed. She would 
leave him alone, however. Precipitation might spoil things. 
She watched him in his loneliness, wondering where he would 
end. He was sick, and much too quiet for him. There was a 
perpetual little knitting of his brows, such as she had seen 
when he was a small baby, and which had been gone for many 
years. Now it was the same again. And she could do nothing 
for him. He had to go on alone, make his own way. 

He continued faithful to Miriam. For one day he had loved 
her utterly. But it never came again. The sense of failure grew 
stronger. At first it was only a sadness. Then he began to feel 
he could not go on. He wanted to run, to go abroad, anything. 
Gradually he ceased to ask her to have him. Instead of drawing 


them together, it put them apart. And then he realised, con- 
sciously, that it was no good. It was useless trying : it would 
never be a success between them. 

For some months he had seen very little of Clara. They had 
occasionally walked out for half an hour at dinner-time. But 
he always reserved himself for Miriam. With Clara, however, 
his brow cleared, and he was gay again. She treated him 
indulgently, as if he were a child. He thought he did not mind. 
But deep below the surface it piqued him. 

Sometimes Miriam said : 

"What about Clara? 1 hear nothing of her lately." 

"1 walked with her about twenty minutes yesterday," he 

"And what did she talk about?" 

"1 don't know. I suppose I did all the jawing — I usually do. 
I think I was telling her about the strike, and how the women 
took it." 


So he gave the account of himself. 

But insidiously, without his knowing it, the warmth he felt 
for Clara drew him away from Miriam, for whom he felt 
responsible, and to whom he felt he belonged. He thought he 
was being quite faithful to her. It was not easy to estimate 
exactly the strength and warmth of one's feelings for a woman 
till they have run away with one. 

He began to give more time to his men friends. There was 
Jessop, at the art school; Swain, who was chemistry demon- 
strator at the university; Newton, who was a teacher; besides 
Edgar and Miriam's younger brothers. Pleading work, he 
sketched and studied with Jessop. He called in the University 
for Swain, and the two went "down town" together. Having 
come home in the train with Newton, he called and had a 
game of billiards with him in the Moon and Stars. If he gave 
to Miriam the excuse of his men friends, he felt quite justified. 
His mother began to be relieved. He always told her where he 
had been. 

During the summer Clara wore sometimes a dress of soft 
cotton stuff with loose sleeves. When she lifted her hands, 
her sleeves fell back, and her beautiful strong arms shone 

"Half a minute," he cried. "Hold your arm still." 

He made sketches of her hand and arm, and the drawings 


contained some of the fascination the real thing had for him. 
Miriam, who always went scrupulously through his books and 
papers, saw the drawings. 

"I think Clara has such beautiful arms/' he said. 

"Yes! When did you draw them?" 

"On Tuesday, in the work-room. You know, I've got a 
corner where I can work. Often 1 can do every single thing 
they need in the department, before dinner. Then 1 work for 
myself in the afternoon, and just see to things at night." 

"Yes," she said, turning the leaves of his sketch-book. 

Frequently he hated Miriam. He hated her as she bent 
forward and pored over his things. He hated her way of 
patiently casting him up, as if he were an endless psychological 
account. When he was with her, he hated her for having got 
him, and yet not got him, and he tortured her. She took all and 
gave nothing, he said. At least, she gave no living warmth. She 
was never alive, and giving off life. Looking for her was like 
looking for something which did not exist. She was only his 
conscience, not his mate. He hated her violently, and was more 
cruel to her. They dragged on till the next summer. He saw 
more and more of Clara. 

At last he spoke. He had been sitting working at home one 
evening. There was between him and his mother a peculiar 
condition of people frankly finding fault with each other. Mrs. 
Morel was strong on her feet again. He was not going to stick 
to Miriam. Very well; then she would stand aloof till he said 
something. It had been coming a long time, this bursting of the 
storm in him, when he would come back to her. This evening 
there was between them a peculiar condition of suspense. He 
worked feverishly and mechanically, so that he could escape 
from himself. It grew late. Through the open door, stealthily, 
came the scent of madonna lilies, almost as if it were prowling 
abroad. Suddenly he got up and went out of doors. 

The beauty of the night made him want to shout, A half- 
moon, dusky gold, was sinking behind the black sycamore at 
the end of the garden, making the sky dull purple with its 
glow. Nearer, a dim white fence of lilies went across the 
garden, and the air all round seemed to stir with scent, as if 
it were alive. He went across the bed of pinks, whose keen 
perfume came sharply across the rocking, heavy scent of the 
lilies, and stood alongside the white barrier of flowers. They 
flagged all loose, as if they were panting. The scent made him 


drunk. He went down to the field to watch the moon sink 

A corncrake in the hay-close called insistently. The moon 
slid quite quickly downwards, growing more flushed. Behind 
him the great flowers leaned as if they were calling. And then, 
like a shock, he caught another perfume, something raw and 
coarse. Hunting round, he found the purple iris, touched their 
fleshy throats and their dark, grasping hands. At any rate, he 
had found something. They stood stiff in the darkness. Their 
scent was brutal. The moon was melting down upon the crest 
of the hill. It was gone; all was dark. The corncrake called still. 

Breaking off a pink, he suddenly went indoors. 

"Come, my boy," said his mother. 'Tm sure it's time you 
went to bed." 

He stood with the pink against his lips. 

"I shall break off with Miriam, mother," he answered calmly. 

She looked up at him over her spectacles. He was staring 
back at her, unswerving. She met his eyes for a moment, then 
took off her glasses. He was white. The male was up in him, 
dominant. She did not want to see him too clearly. 

"But 1 thought " she began. 

"Well," he answered, "1 don't love her. I don't want to 
marry her — so I shall have done." 

"But," exclaimed his mother, amazed, "1 thought lately you 
had made up your mind to have her, and so I said nothing." 

"1 had — 1 wanted to — but now 1 don't want. It's no good. I 
shall break off on Sunday. I ought to, oughtn't I?" 

"You know best. You know I said so long ago." 

"I can't help that now. I shall break off on Sunday." 

"Well," said his mother, "I think it will be best. But lately 
I decided you had made up your mind to have her, so I said 
nothing, and should have said nothing. But I say as I have 
always said, I don't think she is suited to you." 

"On Sunday I break off," he said, smelling the pink. He put 
the flower in his mouth. Unthinking, he bared his teeth, closed 
them on the blossom slowly, and had a mouthful of petals. 
These he spat into the fire, kissed his mother, and went to bed. 

On Sunday he went up to the farm in the early afternoon. 
He had written Miriam that they would walk over the fields to 
Hucknall. His mother was very tender with him. He said 
nothing. But she saw the effort it was costing. The peculiar 
set look on his face stilled her. 


"Never mind, my son," she said. "You will be so much 
better when it is all over." 

Paul glanced swiftly at his mother in surprise and resent- 
ment. He did not want sympathy. 

Miriam met him at the lane-end. She was wearing a new dress 
of figured muslin that had short sleeves. Those short sleeves, 
and Miriam's brown-skinned arms beneath them — such pitiful, 
resigned arms — gave him so much pain that they helped to 
make him cruel. She had made herself look so beautiful and 
fresh for him. She seemed to blossom for him alone. Every 
time he looked at her — a mature young woman now, and beau- 
tiful in her new dress — it hurt so much that his heart seemed 
almost to be bursting with the restraint he put on it. But he 
had decided, and it was irrevocable. 

On the hills they sat down, and he lay with his head in her 
lap, whilst she fingered his hair. She knew that "he was not 
there," as she put it. Often, when she had him with her, she 
looked for him, and could not find him. But this afternoon she 
was not prepared. 

It was nearly five o'clock when he told her. They were sitting 
on the bank of a stream, where the lip of turf hung over a 
hollow bank of yellow earth, and he was hacking away with 
a stick, as he did when he was perturbed and cruel. 

"1 have been thinking," he said, "we ought to break off." 

"Why?" she cried in surprise. 

"Because it's no good going on." 

"Why is it no good?" 

"It isn't. I don't want to marry. I don't want ever to marry. 
And if we're not going to marry, it's no good going on." 

"But why do you say this now?" 

"Because I've made up my mind." 

"And what about these last months, and the things you told 
me then?" 

"I can't help it! I don't want to go on." 

"You don't want any more of me?" 

"I want us to break off — you be free of me, I free of you." 

"And what about these last months?" 

"I don't know. I've not told you anything but what I thought 
was true." 

"Then why are you different now?" 

"I'm not — I'm the same — only I know it's no good going on," 

"You haven't told me why it's no good." 


"Because I don't want to go on — and I don't want to marry." 

"How many times have you offered to marry me, and I 

"I know; but I want us to break off." 

There was silence for a moment or two, while he dug 
viciously at the earth. She bent her head, pondering. He was 
an unreasonable child. He was like an infant which, when it 
has drunk its fill, throws away and smashes the cup. She looked 
at him, feeling she could get hold of him and wring some con- 
sistency out of him. But she was helpless. Then she cried: 

"I have said you were only fourteen — you are only four I" 

He still dug at the earth viciously. He heard. 

"You are a child of four," she repeated in her anger. 

He did not answer, but said in his heart : "All right; if I'm a 
child of four, what do you want me for ? / don't want another 
mother." But he said nothing to her, and there was silence. 

"And have you told your people?" she asked. 

"I have told my mother." 

There was another long interval of silence. 

"Then what do you want?" she asked. 

"Why, I want us to separate. We have lived on each other 
all these years; now let us stop. I will go my own way without 
you, and you will go your way without me. You will have an 
independent life of your own then." 

There was in it some truth that, in spite of her bitterness, 
she could not help registering. She knew she felt in a sort of 
bondage to him, which she hated because she could not control 
it. She hated her love for him from the moment it grew too 
strong for her. And, deep down, she had hated him because she 
loved him and he dominated her. She had resisted his domina- 
tion. She had fought to keep herself free of him in the last 
issue. And she was free of him, even more than he of her. 

"And," he continued, "we shall always be more or less each 
other's work. You have done a lot for me, I for you. Now let 
us start and live by ourselves." 

"What do you want to do?" she asked. 

"Nothing — only to be free," he answered. 

She, however, knew in her heart that Clara's influence was 
over him to liberate him. But she said nothing. 

"And what have 1 to tell my mother?" she asked. 

"I told my mother," he answered, "that I was breaking off — 
clean and altogether." 


"I shall not tell them at home," she said. 

Frowning, "You please yourself," he said. 

He knew he had landed her in a nasty hole, and was leaving 
her in the lurch. It angered him. 

"Tell them you wouldn't and won't marry me, and have 
broken off," he said. "It's true enough." 

She bit her finger moodily. She thought over their whole 
affair. She had known it would come to this; she had seen it 
all along. It chimed with her bitter expectation, 

"Always — it has always been so!" she cried. "It has been 
one long battle between us — you fighting away from me." 

It came from her unawares, like a flash of lightning. The 
man's heart stood still. Was this how she saw it? 

"But we've had some perfect hours, some perfect times, 
when we were together!" he pleaded 

"Never!" she cried; "never! It has always been you fighting 
me off." 

"Not always — not at first!" he pleaded. 

"Always, from the very beginning — always the same!" 

She had finished, but she had done enough. He sat aghast. 
He had wanted to say : "It has been good, but it is at an end." 
And she — she whose love he had believed in when he had 
despised himself — denied that their love had ever been love. 
"He had always fought away from her?" Then it had been 
monstrous. There had never been anything really between 
them; all the time he had been imagining something where 
there was nothing. And she had known. She had known so 
much, and had told him so little. She had known all the time. 
All the time this was at the bottom of her! 

He sat silent in bitterness. At last the whole affair appeared 
in a cynical aspect to him. She had really played with him, 
not he with her. She had hidden all her condemnation from 
him, had flattered him, and despised him. She despised him 
now. He grew intellectual and cruel. 

"You ought to marry a man who worships you," he said; 
"then you could do as you liked with him. Plenty of men will 
worship you, if you get on the private side of their natures. 
You ought to marry one such. They would never fight you off." 

"Thank you ! " she said. "But don't advise me to marry some- 
one else any more. You've done it before." 

"Very well," he said; "I will say no more." 

He sat still, feeling as if he had had a blow, instead of giving 


one. Their eight years of friendship and love, the eight years 
of his life, were nullified. 

"When did you think of this?" she asked. 

"I thought definitely on Thursday night." 

"I knew it was coming," she said. 

That pleased him bitterly. "Oh, very well! If she knew 
then it doesn't come as a surprise to her," he thought. 

"And have you said anything to Clara?" she asked. 

"No; but 1 shall tell her now." 

There was a silence. 

"Do you remember the things you said this time last year, 
in my grandmother's house — nay last month even?" 

"Yes," he said; "1 do ! And 1 meant them ! I can't help that 
it's failed." 

"It has failed because you want something else." 

"It would have failed whether or not. You never believed 
in me." 

She laughed strangely. 

He sat in silence. He was full of a feeling that she had 
deceived him. She had despised him when he thought she 
worshipped him. She had let him say wrong things, and had 
not contradicted him. She had let him fight alone. But it stuck 
in his throat that she had despised him whilst he thought she 
worshipped him. She should have told him when she found 
fault with him. She had not played fair. He hated her. All 
these years she had treated him as if he were a hero, and 
thought of him secretly as an infant, a foolish child. Then why 
had she left the foolish child to his folly? His heart was hard 
against her. 

She sat full of bitterness. She had known — oh, well she had 
known ! All the time he was away from her she had summed 
him up, seen his littleness, his meanness, and his folly. Even 
she had guarded her soul against him. She was not overthrown, 
not prostrated, not even much hurt. She had known. Only 
why, as he sat there, had he still this strange dominance over 
her? His very movements fascinated her as if she were hypno- 
tised by him. Yet he was despicable, false, inconsistent, and 
mean. Why this bondage for her? Why was it the movement 
of his arm stirred her as nothing else in the world could ? Why 
was she fastened to him ? Why, even now, if he looked at her 
and commanded her, would she have to obey ? She would obey 
him in his trifling commands. But once he was obeyed, then 


she had him in her power, she knew, to lead him where she 
would. She was sure of herself. Only, this new influence ! Ah, 
he was not a man! He was a baby that cries for the newest 
toy. And all the attachment of his soul would not keep him. 
Very well, he would have to go. But he would come back 
when he had tired of his new sensation. 

He hacked at the earth till she was fretted to death. She 
rose. He sat flinging lumps of earth in the stream. 

"We will go and have tea here?" he asked. 

"Yes," she answered. 

They chattered over irrelevant subjects during tea. He held 
forth on the love of ornament — ^the cottage parlour moved him 
thereto — and its connection with aesthetics. She was cold and 
quiet. As they walked home, she asked : 

"And we shall not see each other?" 

"No — or rarely," he answered. 

"Nor write?" she asked, almost sarcastically. 

"As you will," he answered. "We're not strangers — never 
should be, whatever happened. 1 will write to you now and 
again. You please yourself." 

"I see!" she answered cuttingly. 

But he was at that stage at which nothing else hurts. He 
had made a great cleavage in his life. He had had a great shock 
when she had told him their love had been always a conflict. 
Nothing more mattered. If it never had been much, there was 
no need to make a fuss that it was ended. 

He left her at the lane-end. As she went home, solitary, in 
her new frock, having her people to face at the other end, he 
stood still with shame and pain in the highroad, thinking of 
the suffering he caused her. 

In the reaction towards restoring his self-esteem, he went 
into the Willow Tree for a drink. There were four girls who 
had been out for the day, drinking a modest glass of port. 
They had some chocolates on the table. Paul sat near with his 
whisky. He noticed the girls whispering and nudging. Presently 
one, a bonny dark hussy, leaned to him and said : 

"Have a chocolate?" 

The others laughed loudly at her impudence. 

"All right," said Paul. "Give me a hard one — nut. I don't 
like creams." 

"Here you are, then," said the girl; "here's an almond for 


She held the sweet between her fingers. He opened his mouth. 
She popped it in, and blushed. 

"You are nice!" he said. 

"Well," she answered, "we thought you looked overcast, and 
they dared me oifer you a chocolate." 

"I don't mind if I have another — another sort," he said. 

And presently they were all laughing together. 

It was nine o'clock when he got home, falling dark. He 
entered the house in silence. His mother, who had been wait- 
ing, rose anxiously. 

"I told her," he said. 

"I'm glad," replied the mother, with great relief. 

He hung up his cap wearily. 

"I said we'd have done altogether," he said. 

"That's right, my son," said the mother. "It's hard for her 
now, but best in the long run. I know. You weren't suited 
for her." 

He laughed shakily as he sat down. 

"I've had such a lark with some girls in a pub," he said. 

His mother looked at him. He had forgotten Miriam now. He 
told her about the girls in the Willow Tree. Mrs. Morel looked 
at him. It seemed unreal, his gaiety. At the back of it was too 
much horror and misery. 

"Now have some supper," she said very gently. 

Afterwards he said wistfully : 

"She never thought she'd have me, mother, not from the 
first, and so she's not disappointed." 

"I'm afraid," said his mother, "she doesn't give up hopes of 
you yet." 

"No," he said, "perhaps not." 

"You'll find it's better to have done," she said. 

"I don't know," he said desperately. 

"Well, leave her alone," replied his mother. 

So he left her, and she was alone. Very few people cared for 
her, and she for very few people. She remained alone with 
herself, waiting. 




He was gradually making it possible to earn a livelihood by his 
art. Liberty's had taken several of his painted designs on 
various stuffs, and he could sell designs for embroideries, for 
altar-cloths, and similar things, in one or tv^o places. It w^as 
not very much he made at present, but he might extend it. He 
had also made friends with the designer for a pottery firm, and 
was gaining some knowledge of his new acquaintance's art. 
The applied arts interested him very much. At the same time 
he laboured slowly at his pictures. He loved. to paint large 
figures, full of light, but not merely made up of lights and cast 
shadows, like the impressionists; rather definite figures that had 
a certain luminous quality, like some of Michael Angelo's 
people. And these he fitted into a landscape, in what he 
thought true proportion. He worked a great deal from memory, 
using everybody he knew. He believed firmly in his work, that 
it was good and valuable. In spite of fits of depression, shrink- 
ing, everything, he believed in his work. 

He was twenty-four when he said his first confident thing 
to his mother. 

"Mother," he said, "I s'll make a painter that they'll 
attend to." 

She sniffed in her quaint fashion. It was like a half -pleased 
shrug of the shoulders. 

"Very well, my boy, we'll see," she said. 

"You shall see, my pigeon ! You see if you're not swanky one 
of these days!" 

"I'm quite content, my boy," she smiled. 

"But you'll have to alter. Look at you with Minnie!" 

Minnie was the small servant, a girl of fourteen. 

"And what about Minnie?" asked Mrs. Morel, with dignity. 

"I heard her this morning : 'Eh, Mrs. Morel ! I was going to 
do that,' when you went out in the rain for some coal," he 
said. "That looks a lot like your being able to manage servants!" 

"Well, it was only the child's niceness," said Mrs. Morel. 

"And you apologising to her: 'You can't do two things at 
once, can you?' " 

"She was busy washing up," replied Mrs. Morel. 


"And what did she say? 'It could easy have waited a bit. 
Now look how your feet paddle!' " 

"Yes — brazen young baggage!" said Mrs. Morel, smiling. 

He looked at his mother, laughing. She was quite warm and 
rosy again with love of him. It seemed as if all the sunshine 
were on her for a moment. He continued his work gladly. She 
seemed so well when she was happy that he forgot her grey 

And that year she went with him to the Isle of Wight for a 
holiday. It was too exciting for them both, and too beautiful. 
Mrs. Morel was full of joy and wonder. But he would have her 
walk with him more than she was able. She had a bad fainting 
bout. So grey her face was, so blue her mouth ! It was agony 
to him. He felt as if someone were pushing a knife in his chest. 
Then she was better again, and he forgot. But the anxiety 
remained inside him, like a wound that did not close. 

After leaving Miriam he went almost straight to Clara. On 
the Monday following the day of the rupture he went down 
to the work-room. She looked up at him and smiled. They had 
grown very intimate unawares. She saw a new brightness 
about him. 

"Well, Queen of Sheba!" he said, laughing. 

"But why?" she asked. 

"I think it suits you. You've got a new frock on." 

She flushed, asking: 

"And what of it?" 

"Suits you — awfully ! / could design you a dress." 

"How would it be?" 

He stood in front of her, his eyes glittering as he expounded. 
He kept her eyes fixed with his. Then suddenly he took hold 
of her. She half-started back. He drew the stuff of her blouse 
tighter, smoothed it over her breast. 

"More so!" he explained. 

But they were both of them flaming with blushes, and 
immediately he ran away. He had touched her. His whole 
body was quivering with the sensation. 

There was already a sort of secret understanding between 
them. The next evening he went to the cinematograph with 
her for a few minutes before train-time. As they sat, he saw 
her hand lying near him. For some moments he dared not 
touch it. The pictures danced and dithered. Then he took her 
hand in his. It was large and firm; it filled his grasp. He held 


it fast. She neither moved nor made any sign. When they 
came out his train was due. He hesitated. 

"Good-night," she said. He darted away across the road. 

The next day he came again, talking to her. She was rather 
superior with him. 

"Shall we go a walk on Monday?" he asked. 

She turned her face aside. 

"Shall you tell Miriam?" she replied sarcastically. 

"I have broken off with her," he said. 


"Last Sunday." 

"You quarrelled?" 

"No ! I had made up my mind. I told her quite definitely I 
should consider myself free." 

Clara did not answer, and he returned to his work. She was 
so quiet and so superb! 

On the Saturday evening he asked her to come and drink 
coffee with him in a restaurant, meeting him after work was 
over. She came, looking very reserved and very distant. He 
had three-quarters of an hour to train-time. 

"We will walk a little while," he said. 

She agreed, and they went past the Castle into the Park. 
He was afraid of her. She walked moodily at his side, with a 
kind of resentful, reluctant, angry walk. He was afraid to take 
her hand. 

"Which way shall we go?" he asked as they walked in 

"I don't mind." 

"Then we'll go up the steps." 

He suddenly turned round. They had passed the Park steps. 
She stood still in resentment at his suddenly abandoning her. 
He looked for her. She stood aloof. He caught her suddenly in 
his arms, held her strained for a moment, kissed her. Then he 
let her go. 

"Come along," he said, penitent. 

She followed him. He took her hand and kissed her finger- 
tips. They went in silence. When they came to the light, he 
let go her hand. Neither spoke till they reached the station. 
Then they looked each other in the eyes. 

"Good-night," she said. 

And he went for his train. His body acted mechanically. 
People talked to him. He heard faint echoes answering them. 


He was in a delirium. He felt that he would go mad if Monday 
did not come at once. On Monday he would see her again. 
All himself was pitched there, ahead. Sunday intervened. He 
could not bear it. He could not see her till Monday. And Sun- 
day intervened — ^hour after hour of tension. He wanted to 
beat his head against the door of the carriage. But he sat still. 
He drank some whisky on the way home, but it only made it 
worse. His mother must not be upset, that was all. He dis- 
sembled, and got quickly to bed. There he sat, dressed, with 
his chin on his knees, staring out of the window at the far 
hill, with its few lights. He neither thought nor slept, but sat 
perfectly still, staring. And when at last he was so cold that 
he came to himself, he found his watch had stopped at half- 
past two. It was after three o'clock. He was exhausted, but 
still there was the torment of knowing it was only Sunday 
morning. He went to bed and slept. Then he cycled all day 
long, till he was fagged out. And he scarcely knew where he 
had been. But the day after was Monday. He slept till four 
o'clock. Then he lay and thought. He was coming nearer to 
himself — he could see himself, real, somewhere in front. She 
would go a walk with him in the afternoon. Afternoon! It 
seemed years ahead. 

Slowly the hours crawled. His father got up; he heard him 
pottering about. Then the miner set off to the pit, his heavy 
boots scraping the yard. Cocks were still crowing. A cart went 
down the road. His mother got up. She knocked the fire. 
Presently she called him softly. He answered as if he were 
asleep. This shell of himself did well. 

He was walking to the station — another mile ! The train was 
near Nottingham. Would it stop before the tunnels? But it 
did not matter; it would get there before dinner-time. He was 
at Jordan's. She would come in half an hour. At any rate, she 
would be near. He had done the letters. She would be 
there. Perhaps she had not come. He ran downstairs. Ah! 
he saw her through the glass door. Her shoulders stoop- 
ing a little to her work made him feel he could not go forward; 
he could not stand. He went in. He was pale, nervous, 
awkward, and quite cold. Would she misunderstand him? He 
could not write his real self with this shell. 

"And this afternoon," he struggled to say. "You will come?" 

"I think so," she replied, murmuring. 

He stood before her, unable to say a word. She hid her face 


from him. Again came over him the feeling that he would lose 
consciousness. He set his teeth and went upstairs. He had done 
everything correctly yet, and he would do so. All the morning 
things seemed a long way off, as they do to a man under chloro- 
form. He himself seemed under a tight band of constraint. 
Then there was his other self, in the distance, doing things, 
entering stuff in a ledger, and he watched that far-off him care- 
fully to see he made no mistake. 

But the ache and strain of it could not go on much longer. 
He worked incessantly. Still it was only twelve o'clock. As 
if he had nailed his clothing against the desk, he stood there 
and worked, forcing every stroke out of himself. It was a 
quarter to one; he could clear away. Then he ran downstairs. 

"You will meet me at the Fountain at two o'clock," he said. 

"1 can't be there till half-past." 

"Yes!" he said. 

She saw his dark, mad eyes. 

"I will try at a quarter past." 

And he had to be content. He went and got some dinner. 
All the time he was still under chloroform, and eveiy minute 
was stretched out indefinitely. He walked miles of streets. 
Then he thought he would be late at the meeting-place. He 
was at the Fountain at five past two. The torture of the next 
quarter of an hour was refined beyond expression. It was the 
anguish of combining the living self with the shell. Then he 
saw her. She came ! And he was there. 

"You are late," he said. 

"Only five minutes," she answered. 

"I'd never have done it to you," he laughed. 

She was in a dark blue costume. He looked at her beautiful 

"You want some flowers," he said, going to the nearest 

She followed him in silence. He bought her a bunch of 
scarlet, brick-red carnations. She put them in her coat, flushing. 

"That's a fine colour!" he said. 

"I'd rather have had something softer," she said. 

He laughed. 

"Do you feel like a blot of vermilion walking down the 
street?" he said. 

She hung her head, afraid of the people they met. He looked 
sideways at her as they walked. There was a wonderful close 


down on her face near the ear that he wanted to touch. And a 
certain heaviness, the heaviness of a very full ear of corn that 
dips slightly in the wind, that there was about her, made his 
brain spin. He seemed to be spinning down the street, every- 
thing going round. 

As they sat in the tramcar, she leaned her heavy shoulder 
against him, and he took her hand. He felt himself coming 
round from the anaesthetic, beginning to breathe. Her ear, half- 
hidden among her blonde hair, was near to him. The tempta- 
tion to kiss it was almost too great. But there were other people 
on top of the car. It still remained to him to kiss it. After all, 
he was not himself, he was some attribute of hers, like the 
sunshine that fell on her. 

He looked quickly away. It had been raining. The big bluff 
of the Castle rock was streaked with rain, as it reared above 
the flat of the town. They crossed the wide, black space of the 
Midland Railway, and passed the cattle enclosure that stood out 
white. Then they ran down sordid Wilford Road. 

She rocked slightly to the tram's motion, and as she leaned 
against him, rocked upon him. He was a vigorous, slender man, 
with exhaustless energy. His face was rough, with rough-hewn 
features, like the common people's; but his eyes under the deep 
brows were so full of life that they fascinated her. They 
seemed to dance, and yet they were still trembling on the finest 
balance of laughter. His mouth the same was just going to 
spring into a laugh of triumph, yet did not. There was a sharp 
suspense about him. She bit her lip moodily. His hand was 
hard clenched over hers. 

They paid their two halfpennies at the turnstile and crossed 
the bridge. The Trent was very full. It swept silent and insid- 
ious under the bridge, travelling in a soft body. There had been 
a great deal of rain. On the river levels were flat gleams of flood 
water. The sky was grey, wdth glisten of silver here and there. 
In Wilford churchyard the dahlias were sodden with rain — 
wet black-crimson balls. No one was on the path that 
went along the green river meadow, along the elm-tree 

There was the faintest haze over the silvery-dark water and 
the green meadow-bank, and the elm-trees that were spangled 
with gold. The river slid by in a body, utterly silent and swift, 
intertwining among itself like some subtle, complex creature. 
Clara walked moodily beside him. 


"Why," she asked at length, in rather a jarring tone, "did 
you leave Miriam?" 

He frowned, 

"Because I wanted to leave her," he said 


"Because I didn't want to go on with her. And I didn't want 
to marry." 

She was silent for a moment. They picked their way down 
the muddy path. Drops of water fell from the elm-trees. 

"You didn't want to marry Miriam, or you didn't want to 
marry at all?" she asked. 

"Both," he answered— "both!" 

They had to manoeuvre to get to the stile, because of the 
pools of water. 

"And what did she say?" Clara asked. 

"Miriam? She said 1 was a baby of four, and that I always 
had battled her ojff." 

Clara pondered over this for a time. 

"But you have really been going with her for some time?" 
she asked. 


"And now you don't want any more of her?" 

"No. 1 know it's no good." 

She pondered again 

"Don't you think you've treated her rather badly?" she 

"Yes; I ought to have dropped it years back. But it would 
have been no good going on. Two wrongs don't make a 

"How old are you?" Clara asked. 


"And I am thirty," she said. 

"1 know you are." 

"I shall be thirty-one — or am 1 thirty-one?" 

"I neither know nor care. What does it matter!" 

They were at the entrance to the Grove. The wet, red track, 
already sticky with fallen leaves, went up the steep bank 
between the grass. On either side stood the elm-trees like pillars 
along a great aisle, arching over and making high up a roof 
from which the dead leaves fell. All was empty and silent and 
wet. She stood on top of the stile, and he held both her hands. 
Laughing, she looked down into his eyes. Then she leaped. Her 


breast came against his; he held her, and covered her face with 

They went on up the slippery, steep red path. Presently she 
released his hand and put it round her waist. 

"You press the vein in my arm, holding it so tightly," she 

They walked along. His finger-tips felt the rocking of her 
breast. All was silent and deserted. On the left the red wet 
plough-land showed through the doorways between the elm- 
boles and their branches. On the right, looking down, they 
could see the tree-tops of elms growing far beneath them, hear 
occasionally the gurgle of the river. Sometimes there below 
they caught glimpses of the full, soft-sliding Trent, and of 
water-meadows dotted with small cattle. 

"It has scarcely altered since little Kirke White used to 
come," he said. 

But he was watching her throat below the ear, where the 
flush was fusing into the honey-white, and her mouth that 
pouted disconsolate. She stirred against him as she walked, 
and his body was like a taut string. 

Half-way up the big colonnade of elms, where the Grove rose 
highest above the river, their forward movement faltered to an 
end. He led her across to the grass, under the trees at the edge 
of the path. The cliff of red earth sloped swiftly down, through 
trees and bushes, to the river that glimmered and was dark 
between the foliage. The far-below w^ater-meadows were very 
green. He and she stood leaning against one another, silent, 
afraid, their bodies touching all along. There came a quick 
gurgle from the river below. 

"Why," he asked at length, "did you hate Baxter Dawes?" 

She turned to him with a splendid movement. Her mouth 
was offered him, and her throat; her eyes were half-shut; her 
breast was tilted as if it asked for him. He flashed with a small 
laugh, shut his eyes, and met her in a long, whole kiss. Her 
mouth fused with his; their bodies were sealed and annealed. 
It was some minutes before they withdrew. They were stand- 
ing beside the public path. 

"Will you go down to the river?" he asked. 

She looked at him, leaving herself in his hands. He went over 
the brim of the declivity and began to climb down. 

"It is slippery," he said. 

"Never mind," she replied. 


The red clay went down almost sheer. He slid, went from 
one tuft of grass to the next, hanging on to the bushes, making 
for a little platform at the foot of a tree. There he waited for 
her, laughing with excitement. Her shoes were clogged with 
red earth. It was hard for her. He frowned. At last he caught 
her hand, and she stood beside him. The cliff rose above them 
and fell away below. Her colour was up, her eyes flashed. He 
looked at the big drop below them. 

"It's risky," he said; "or messy, at any rate. Shall we go 

"Not for my sake," she said quickly. 

"All right. You see, I can't help you; I should only hinder. 
Give me that little parcel and your gloves. Your poor shoes ! " 

They stood perched on the face of the declivity, under the 

"Well, I'll go again," he said. 

Away he went, slipping, staggering, sliding to the next tree, 
into which he fell with a slam that nearly shook the breath out 
of him. She came after cautiously, hanging on to the twigs 
and grasses. So they descended, stage by stage, to the river's 
brink. There, to his disgust, the flood had eaten away the path, 
and the red decline ran straight into the water. He dug in his 
heels and brought himself up violently. The string of the parcel 
broke with a snap; the brown parcel bounded down, leaped into 
the water, and sailed smoothly away. He hung on to his tree. 

"Well, I'll be damned!" he cried crossly. Then he laughed. 
She was coming perilously down. 

"Mind!" he warned her. He stood with his back to the tree, 
waiting. "Come now," he called, opening his arms. 

She let herself run. He caught her, and together they stood 
watching the dark water scoop at the raw edge of the bank. 
The parcel had sailed out of sight. 

"It doesn't matter," she said. 

He held her close and kissed her. There was only room for 
their four feet. 

"It's a swindle!" he said. "But there's a rut where a man 
has been, so if we go on I guess we shall find the path again." 

The river slid and twined its great volume. On the other 
bank cattle were feeding on the desolate flats. The cliff rose 
high above Paul and Clara on their right hand. They stood 
against the tree in the watery silence. 

"Let us try going forward," he said; and they struggled in 


the red clay along the groove a man's nailed boots had made. 
They were hot and flushed. Their barkled shoes hung heavy 
on their steps. At last they found the broken path. It was 
littered with rubble from the water, but at any rate it was 
easier. They cleaned their boots vnth twigs. His heart was 
beating thick and fast. 

Suddenly, coming on to the little level, he saw two figures of 
men standing silent at the water's edge. His heart leaped. They 
were fishing. He turned and put his hand up warningly to 
Clara. She hesitated, buttoned her coat. The two went on 

The fishermen turned curiously to watch the two intruders 
on their privacy and solitude. They had had a fire, but it was 
nearly out. AH kept perfectly still. The men turned again to 
their fishing, stood over the grey glinting river like statues. 
Clara went with bowed head, flushing; he was laughing to him- 
self. Directly they passed out of sight behind the willows. 

"Now they ought to be drowned," said Paul softly. 

Clare did not answer. They toiled forward along a tiny path 
on the river's lip. Suddenly it vanished. The bank was sheer 
red solid clay in front of them, sloping straight into the river. 
He stood and cursed beneath his breath, setting his teeth. 

"It's impossible!" said Clara. 

He stood erect, looking round. Just ahead were two islets in 
the stream, covered with osiers. But they were unattainable. 
The cliff came down like a sloping wall from far above their 
heads. Behind, not far back, were the fishermen. Across the 
river the distant cattle fed silently in the desolate afternoon. 
He cursed again deeply under his breath. He gazed up the great 
steep bank. Was there no hope but to scale back to the public 

"Stop a minute," he said, and, digging his heels sideways into 
the steep bank of red clay, he began nimbly to mount. He 
looked across at every tree-foot. At last he found what he 
wanted. Two beech-trees side by side on the hill held a little 
level on the upper face between their roots. It was littered with 
damp leaves, but it would do. The fishermen were perhaps 
sufficiently out of sight. He threw down his rainproof and 
waved to her to come. 

She toiled to his side. Arriving there, she looked at him 
heavily, dumbly, and laid her head on his shoulder. He held 
her fast as he looked round. They were safe enough from all 


but the small, lonely cows over the river. He sunk his mouth 
on her throat, where he felt her heavy pulse beat under his lips. 
Everything was perfectly still. There was nothing in the after- 
noon but themselves. 

When she arose, he, looking on the ground all the time, saw 
suddenly sprinkled on the black wet beech-roots many scarlet 
carnation petals, like splashed drops of blood; and red, small 
splashes fell from her bosom, streaming down her dress to her 

"Your flowers are smashed," he said. 

She looked at him heavily as she put back her hair. Suddenly 
he put his finger-tips on her cheek. 

"Why dost look so heavy?" he reproached her. 

She smiled sadly, as if she felt alone in herself. He caressed 
her cheek with his fingers, and kissed her. 

"Nay!" he said. "Never thee bother!" 

She gripped his fingers tight, and laughed shakily. Then she 
dropped her hand. He put the hair back from her brows, strok- 
ing her temples, kissing them lightly. 

"But tha shouldna worrit!" he said softly, pleading. 

"No, I don't worry!" she laughed tenderly and resigned. 

"Yea, tha does ! Dunna thee worrit," he implored, caressing. 

"No!" she consoled him, kissing him. 

They had a stiif climb to get to the top again. It took them 
a quarter of an hour. When he got on to the level grass, he 
threw off his cap, wiped the sweat from his forehead, and 

"Now we're back at the ordinary level," he said. 

She sat down, panting, on the tussocky grass. Her cheeks 
were flushed pink. He kissed her, and she gave way to joy. 

"And now I'll clean thy boots and make thee fit for respect- 
able folk," he said. 

He kneeled at her feet, worked away with a stick and tufts 
of grass. She put her fingers in his hair, drew his head to her, 
and kissed it. 

"What am I supposed to be doing," he said, looking at her 
laughing; "cleaning shoes or dibbling with love? Answer me 

"Just whichever I please," she replied. 

"I'm your boot-boy for the time being, and nothing else!" 
But they remained looking into each other's eyes and laughing. 
Then they kissed with little nibbling kisses. 


"T-t-t-t!" he went with his tongue, like his mother. "I tell 
you, nothing gets done when there's a woman about." 

And he returned to his boot-cleaning, singing softly. She 
touched his thick hair, and he kissed her fingers. He worked 
away at her shoes. At last they were quite presentable. 

"There you are, you see!" he said. "Aren't I a great hand 
at restoring you to respectability? Stand up! There, you look 
as irreproachable as Britannia herself!" 

He cleaned his own boots a little, washed his hands in a 
puddle, and sang. They went on into Clifton village. He was 
madly in love with her; every movement she made, every 
crease in her garments, sent a hot flash through him and seemed 

The old lady at whose house they had tea was roused into 
gaiety by them. 

"1 could wish you'd had something of a better day," she said, 
hovering round. 

"Nay!" he laughed. "We've been saying how nice it is." 

The old lady looked at him curiously. There was a peculiar 
glow and charm about him. His eyes were dark and laughing. 
He rubbed his moustache with a glad movement. 

"Have you been saying sol" she exclaimed, a light rousing 
in her old eyes. 

"Truly!" he laughed. 

"Then I'm sure the day's good enough," said the old lady. 

She fussed about, and did not want to leave them. 

"I don't know whether you'd like some radishes as well," 
she said to Clara; "but I've got some in the garden — and a 

Clara flushed. She looked very handsome. 

"I should like some radishes," she answered. 

And the old lady pottered off gleefully. 

"If she knew!" said Clara quietly to him. 

"Well, she doesn't know; and it shows we're nice in our- 
selves, at any rate. You look quite enough to satisfy an arch- 
angel, and I'm sure I feel harmless — so — if it makes you look 
nice, and makes folk happy when they have us, and makes us 
happy — why, we're not cheating them out of much!" 

They went on v^th the meal. When they were going away, 
the old lady came timidly with three tiny dahlias in full blow, 
neat as bees, and speckled scarlet and white. She stood before 
Clara, pleased with herself, saying : 


"I don't know whether " and holding the flowers forward 

in her old hand. 

"Oh, how pretty!" cried Clara, accepting the flowers. 

"Shall she have them all?" asked Paul reproachfully of the 
old woman. 

"Yes, she shall have them all/' she repUed, beaming with joy. 
"You have got enough for your share." 

"Ah, but 1 shall ask her to give me one!" he teased. 

"Then she does as she pleases," said the old lady, smiling. 
And she bobbed a little curtsey of delight. 

Clara was rather quiet and uncomfortable. As they walked 
along, he said: 

"You don't feel criminal, do you?" 

She looked at him with startled grey eyes. 

"Criminal!" she said. "No." 

"But you seem to feel you have done a wrong?" 

"No," she said. "I only think, 'If they knew!' " 

"If they knew, they'd cease to understand. As it is, they do 
understand, and they like it. What do they matter? Here, with 
only the trees and me, you don't feel not the least bit wrong, 
do you?" 

He took her by the arm, held her facing him, holding her 
eyes with his. Something fretted him. 

"Not sinners, are we?" he said, with an uneasy little 

"No," she replied. 

He kissed her, laughing. 

"You like your little bit of guiltiness, I believe," he said. 
"1 believe Eve enjoyed it, when she went cowering out of 

But there was a certain glow and quietness about her that 
made him glad. When he was alone in the railway-carriage, 
he found himself tumultuously happy, and the people exceed- 
ingly nice, and the night lovely, and everything good. 

Mrs. Morel was sitting reading when he got home. Her 
health was not good now, and there had come that ivory pallor 
into her face which he never noticed, and which afterwards he 
never forgot. She did not mention her own ill-health to him. 
After all, she thought, it was not much. 

"You are late!" she said, looking at him. 

His eyes were shining; his face seemed to glow. He smiled 
to her. 


"Yes; I've been down Clifton Grove v^ith Clara." 

His mother looked at him again. 

"But w^on't people talk?" she said. 

"Why ? They know she's a suffragette, and so on. And what 
if they do talk!" 

"Of course, there may be nothing wrong in it," said his 
mother. "But you know what folks are, and if once she gets 
talked about " 

"Well, I can't help it. Their jaw isn't so almighty important, 
after all." 

"1 think you ought to consider her." 

"So I do\ What can people say? — that we take a walk 
together. 1 believe you're jealous." 

"You know 1 should be glad if she weren't a married 

"Well, my dear, she lives separate from her husband, and 
talks on platforms; so she's already singled out from the sheep, 
and, as far as 1 can see, hasn't much to lose. No; her life's 
nothing to her, so what's the worth of nothing ? She goes with 
me — it becomes something. Then she must pay — we both must 
pay! Folk are so frightened of paying; they'd rather starve 
and die." 

"Very well, my son. We'll see how it will end." 

"Very well, my mother. I'll abide by the end." 

"We'll see!" 

"And she's — she's awfully nice, mother; she is really! You 
don't know!" 

"That's not the same as marrying her." 

"It's perhaps better." 

There was silence for a while. He wanted to ask his mother 
something, but was afraid. 

"Should you like to know her?" He hesitated. 

"Yes," said Mrs. Morel coolly. "1 should like to know what 
she's like." 

"But she's nice, mother, she is! And not a bit common!" 

"I never suggested she was." 

"But you seem to think she's — not as good as She's 

better than ninety-nine folk out of a hundred, 1 tell you ! She's 
better, she is ! She's fair, she's honest, she straight ! There isn't 
anything underhand or superior about her. Don't be mean 
about her!" 

Mrs. Morel flushed. 


"I am sure I am not mean about her. She may be quite as 
you say, but — — " 

"You don't approve/' he finished. 

"And do you expect me to?" she answered coldly. 

"Yes! — yes! — if you'd anything about you, you'd be glad! 
Do you want to see her?" 

"I said I did." 

"Then I'll bring her — shall I bring her here?" 

"You please yourself." 

"Then I will bring her here — one Sunday — to tea. If you 
think a horrid thing about her, I shan't forgive you." 

His mother laughed. 

"As if it would make any difference!" she said. He knew he 
had won, 

"Oh, but it feels so fine, when she's there ! She's such a queen 
in her way." 

Occasionally he still walked a little way from chapel with 
Miriam and Edgar. He did not go up to the farm. She, how- 
ever, was very much the same with him, and he did not feel 
embarrassed in her presence. One evening she was alone when 
he accompanied her. They began by talking books: it was 
their unfailing topic. Mrs. Morel had said that his and Miriam's 
affair was like a fire fed on books — if there w^ere no more 
volumes it would die out. Miriam, for her part, boasted that 
she could read him like a book, could place her finger any 
minute on the chapter and the line. He, easily taken in, 
believed that Miriam knew more about him than anyone else. 
So it pleased him to talk to her about himself, like the simplest 
egoist. Very soon the conversation drifted to his own doings. 
It flattered him immensely that he was of such supreme 

"And what have you been doing lately?" 

"I — oh, not much! I made a sketch of Bestwood from the 
garden, that is nearly right at last. It's the hundredth try." 

So they went on. Then she said : 

"You've not been out, then, lately?" 

"Yes; I went up Clifton Grove on Monday afternoon with 

"It was not very nice weather," said Miriam, "was it?" 

"But I wanted to go out, and it was all right. The Trent is 

"And did you go to Barton?" she asked. 


"No; we had tea in Clifton." 

"Did you! That would be nice." 

"It was! The jolliest old woman! She gave us several pom- 
pom dahlias, as pretty as you like." 

Miriam bowed her head and brooded. He was quite uncon- 
scious of concealing anything from her. 

"What made her give them you?" she asked. 

He laughed. 

"Because she liked us — ^because we were jolly, I should 

Miriam put her finger in her mouth. 

"Were you late home?" she asked. 

At last he resented her tone. 

"I caught the seven-thirty." 


They walked on in silence, and he was angry. 

"And how is Clara?" asked Miriam. 

"Quite all right, 1 think." 

"That's good!" she said, wdth a tinge of irony. "By the 
way, what of her husband? One never hears anything of 

"He's got some other woman, and is also quite all right," he 
replied. "At least, so I think." 

"I see — ^you don't know for certain. Don't you think a 
position like that is hard on a woman?" 

"Rottenly hard!" 

"It's so unjust!" said Miriam. "The man does as he 
likes " 

"Then let the woman also," he said. 

"How can she ? And if she does, look at her position ! " 

"What of it?" 

"Why, it's impossible ! You don't understand what a woman 
forfeits " 

"No, I don't. But if a woman's got nothing but her fair 
fame to feed on, why, it's thin tack, and a donkey would die 
of it!" 

So she understood his moral attitude, at least, and she knew 
he would act accordingly. 

She never asked him anything direct, but she got to know 

Another day, when he saw Miriam, the conversation turned 
to marriage, then to Clara's marriage with Dawes. 


"You see/' he said, "she never knew the fearful importance 
of marriage. She thought it was all in the day's march — it 
would have to come — and Dawes — well, a good many women 
would have given their souls to get him; so why not him? 
Then she developed into the femme incomprise, and treated him 
badly, I'll bet my boots." 

"And she left him because he didn't understand her?" 

"I suppose so. 1 suppose she had to. It isn't altogether a 
question of understanding; it's a question of living. With him, 
she was only half -alive; the rest was dormant, deadened. And 
the dormant woman was the femme incomprise, and she had 
to be awakened." 

"And what about him." 

"I don't know. 1 rather think he loves her as much as he can, 
but he's a fool." 

' 'It was something like your mother and father," said Miriam. 

'Yes; but my mother, I believe, got real joy and satisfaction 

out of my father at first. 1 believe she had a passion for him; 

that's why she stayed with him. After all, they were bound to 

each other." 

"Yes," said Miriam. 

"That's what one must have, 1 think," he continued — "the 
real, real flame of feeling through another person — once, only 
once, if it only lasts three months. See, my mother looks as if 
she'd had everything that was necessary for her living and 
developing. There's not a tiny bit of feeling of sterility about 

"No," said Miriam. 

"And with my father, at first, I'm sure she had the real thing. 
She knows; she has been there. You can feel it about her, and 
about him, and about hundreds of people you meet every day; 
and, once it has happened to you, you can go on with anything 
and ripen." 

"What happened, exactly?" asked Miriam. 

"It's so hard to say, but the something big and intense that 
changes you when you really come together with somebody 
else. It almost seems to fertilise your soul and make it that you 
can go on and mature." 

"And you think your mother had it with your father?" 

"Yes; and at the bottom she feels grateful to him for giving 
it her, even now, though they are miles apart." 

"And you think Clara never had it?" 


"I'm sure." 

Miriam pondered this. She saw what he was seeking — a sort 
of baptism of fire in passion, it seemed to her. She realised that 
he would never be satisfied till he had it. Perhaps it was 
essential to him, as to some men, to sow wild oats; and after- 
wards, when he was satisfied, he would not rage with restless- 
ness any more, but could settle down and give her his life into 
her hands. Well, then, if he must go, let him go and have his 
fill — something big and intense, he called it. At any rate, when 
he had got it, he would not want it — that he said himself; he 
would want the other thing that she could give him. He would 
want to be owned, so that he could work. It seemed to her a 
bitter thing that he must go, but she could let him go into an 
inn for a glass of whisky, so she could let him go to Clara, so 
long as it was something that would satisfy a need in him, and 
leave him free for herself to possess. 

"Have you told your mother about Clara?" she asked. 

She knew this would be a test of the seriousness of his feel- 
ing for the other woman : she knew he was going to Clara for 
something vital, not as a man goes for pleasure to a prostitute, 
if he told his mother. 

"Yes," he said, "and she is coming to tea on Sunday." 

"To your house?" 

"Yes; I want mater to see her." 


There was a silence. Things had gone quicker than she 
thought. She felt a sudden bitterness that he could leave her 
so soon and so entirely. And was Clara to be accepted by his 
people, who had been so hostile to herself ? 

"I may call in as 1 go to chapel," she said. "It is a long time 
since I saw Clara." 

"Very well," he said, astonished, and unconsciously angry. 

On the Sunday afternoon he went to Keston to meet Clara 
at the station. As he stood on the platform he was trying to 
examine in himself if he had a premonition. 

"Do 1 feel as if she'd come?" he said to himself, and he tried 
to find out. His heart felt queer and contracted. That seemed 
like foreboding. Then he had a foreboding she would not come! 
Then she would not come, and instead of taking her over the 
fields home, as he had imagined, he would have to go alone. 
The train was late; the afternoon would be wasted, and the 
evening. He hated her for not coming. Why had she 


promised, then, if she could not keep her promise? Perhaps 
she had missed her train — he himself was always missing trains 
— but that was no reason why she should miss this particular 
one. He was angry with her; he was furious. 

Suddenly he saw the train crawling, sneaking round the 
corner. Here, then, was the train, but of course she had not 
come. The green engine hissed along the platform, the row of 
brown carriages drew up, several doors opened. No; she had 
not come! No! Yes; ah, there she was! She had a big black 
hat on ! He was at her side in a moment. 

"I thought you weren't coming," he said. 

She was laughing rather breathlessly as she put out her hand 
to him; their eyes met. He took her quickly along the platform, 
talking at a great rate to hide his feeling. She looked beautiful. 
In her hat were large silk roses, coloured like tarnished gold. 
Her costume of dark cloth fitted so beautifully over her breast 
and shoulders. His pride went up as he walked with her. He 
felt the station people, who knew him, eyed her with awe and 

"I was sure you weren't coming," he laughed shakily. 

She laughed in answer, almost with a little cry. 

"And I wondered, when 1 was in the train, whatever I should 
do if you weren't there!" she said. 

He caught her hand impulsively, and they went along the 
narrow twitchel. They took the road into Nuttall and over 
the Reckoning House Farm. It was a blue, mild day. Every- 
where the brown leaves lay scattered; many scarlet hips stood 
upon the hedge beside the wood. He gathered a few for her 
to wear. 

"Though, really," he said, as he fitted them into the breast 
of her coat, "you ought to object to my getting them, because 
of the birds. But they don't care much for rose-hips in this 
part, where they can get plenty of stuff. You often find the 
berries going rotten in the springtime." 

So he chattered, scarcely aware of what he said, only know- 
ing he was putting berries in the bosom of her coat, while she 
stood patiently for him. And she watched his quick hands, so 
full of life, and it seemed to her she had never seen anything 
before. Till now, everything had been indistinct. 

They came near to the colliery. It stood quite still and black 
among the corn-fields, its immense heap of slag seen rising 
almost from the oats. 


"What a pity there is a coal-pit here where it is so pretty!" 
said Clara. 

"Do you think so?" he answered. "You see, 1 am so used 
to it I should miss it. No; and 1 like the pits here and there. 1 
like the rows of trucks, and the headstocks, and the steam in 
the daytime, and the lights at night. When 1 was a boy, 1 
always thought a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire 
by night was a pit, with its steam, and its lights, and the burn- 
ing bank, — and I thought the Lord was always at the pit-top." 

As they drew near home she walked in silence, and seemed 
to hang back. He pressed her fingers in his own. She flushed, 
but gave no response. 

"Don't you want to come home?" he asked. 

"Yes, I want to come," she replied. 

It did not occur to him that her position in his home would 
be rather a peculiar and difficult one. To him it seemed just 
as if one of his men friends were going to be introduced to his 
mother, only nicer. 

The Morels lived in a house in an ugly street that ran down 
a steep hill. The street itself was hideous. The house was 
rather superior to most. It was old, grimy, with a big bay 
window, and it was semi-detached; but it looked gloomy. Then 
Paul opened the door to the garden, and all was different. The 
sunny afternoon was there, like another land. By the path grew 
tansy and little trees. In front of the window was a plot of 
sunny grass, with old lilacs round it. And away went the 
garden, with heaps of dishevelled chrysanthemums in the sun- 
shine, down to the sycamore-tree, and the field, and beyond 
one looked over a few red-roofed cottages to the hills with all 
the glow of the autumn afternoon. 

Mrs. Morel sat in her rocking-chair, wearing her black silk 
blouse. Her grey-brown hair was taken smooth back from her 
brow and her high temples; her face was rather pale. Clara, 
suffering, followed Paul into the kitchen. Mrs. Morel rose. 
Clara thought her a lady, even rather stiff. The young woman 
was very nervous. She had almost a wistful look, almost 

"Mother— Clara," said Paul. 

Mrs. Morel held out her hand and smiled. 

"He has told me a good deal about you," she said. 

The blood flamed in Clara's cheek. 

"I hope you don't mind my coming," she faltered. 


"I was pleased when he said he would bring you," replied 
Mrs. Morel. 

Paul, watching, felt his heart contract with pain. His mother 
looked so small, and sallow, and done-for beside the luxuriant 

"It's such a pretty day, mother!" he said. "And we saw a 

His mother looked at him; he had turned to her. She thought 
what a man he seemed, in his dark, well-made clothes. He was 
pale and detached-looking; it would be hard for any woman to 
keep him. Her heart glowed; then she was sorry for Clara. 

"Perhaps you'll leave your things in the parlour," said Mrs. 
Morel nicely to the young woman. 

"Oh, thank you," she repUed. 

"Come on," said Paul, and he led the way into the little front 
room, with its old piano, its mahogany furniture, its yellowing 
marble mantelpiece. A fire was burning; the place was littered 
with books and drawing-boards. "1 leave my things lying 
about," he said. "It's so much easier." 

She loved his artist's paraphernalia, and the books, and the 
photos of people. Soon he was telling her : this was William, 
this was William's young lady in the evening dress, this was 
Annie and her husband, this was Arthur and his wife and the 
baby. She felt as if she were being taken into the family. He 
showed her photos, books, sketches, and they talked a little 
while. Then they returned to the kitchen. Mrs. Morel put aside 
her book. Clara wore a blouse of fine silk chiffon, with narrow 
black-and-white stripes; her hair was done simply, coiled on 
top of her head. She looked rather stately and reserved. 

"You have gone to live down Sneinton Boulevard?" said Mrs. 
Morel. "When 1 was a girl — girl, I say! — when 1 was a young 
woman we lived in Minerva Terrace." 

"Oh, did you!" said Clara. "1 have a friend in number 6." 

And the conversation had started. They talked Nottingham 
and Nottingham people; it interested them both. Clara was 
still rather nervous; Mrs. Morel was still somewhat on her 
dignity. She clipped her language very clear and precise. But 
they were going to get on well together, Paul saw. 

Mrs. Morel measured herself against the younger woman, 
and found herself easily stronger. Clara was deferential. She 
knew Paul's surprising regard for his mother, and she had 
dreaded the meeting, expecting someone rather hard and cold. 


She was surprised to find this little interested woman chatting 
with such readiness; and then she felt, as she felt with Paul, 
that she would not care to stand in Mrs. Morel's way. There 
was something so hard and certain in his mother, as if she 
never had a misgiving in her life. 

Presently Morel came down, ruffled and yawning, from his 
afternoon sleep. He scratched his grizzled head, he podded in 
his stocking feet, his waistcoat hung open over his shirt. He 
seemed incongruous. 

"This is Mrs. Dawes, father," said Paul. 

Then Morel pulled himself together. Clara saw Paul's manner 
of bowing and shaking hands. 

"Oh, indeed!" exclaimed Morel. "I am very glad to see you 
— I am, 1 assure you. But don't disturb yourself. No, no make 
yourself quite comfortable, and be very welcome." 

Clara was astonished at this flood of hospitality from the old 
collier. He was so courteous, so gallant ! She thought him most 

"And may you have come far?" he asked. 

"Only from Nottingham," she said. 

"From Nottingham ! Then you have had a beautiful day for 
your journey." 

Then he strayed into the scullery to wash his hands and face, 
and from force of habit came on to the hearth with the towel 
to dry himself. 

At tea Clara felt the refinement and sang-froid of the house- 
hold. Mrs. Morel was perfectly at her ease. The pouring out 
the tea and attending to the people went on unconsciously, 
without interrupting her in her talk. There was a lot of room 
at the oval table: the china of dark blue willow-pattern looked 
pretty on the glossy cloth. There was a little bowl of small, 
yellow chrysanthemums. Clara felt she completed the circle, 
and it was a pleasure to her. But she was rather afraid of the 
self-possession of the Morels, father and all. She took their 
tone; there was a feeling of balance. It was a cool, clear atmos- 
phere, where everyone was himself, and in harmony. Clara 
enjoyed it, but there was a fear deep at the bottom of her. 

Paul cleared the table whilst his mother and Clara talked. 
Clara was conscious of his quick, vigorous body as it came and 
went, seeming blown quickly by a wind at its work. It was 
almost like the hither and thither of a leaf that comes un- 
expected. Most of herself went with him. By the way she 


leaned forward, as if listening, Mrs. Morel could see she was 
possessed elsewhere as she talked, and again the elder woman 
was sorry for her. 

Having finished, he strolled down the garden, leaving the two 
women to talk. It was a hazy, sunny afternoon, mild and soft. 
Clara glanced through the v^ndow after him as he loitered 
among the chrysanthemums. She felt as if something almost 
tangible fastened her to him; yet he seemed so easy in his grace- 
ful, indolent movement, so detached as he tied up the too-heavy 
flower branches to their stakes, that she wanted to shriek in 
her helplessness. 

Mrs. Morel rose. 

"You will let me help you wash up," said Clara. 

"Eh, there are so few, it will only take a minute," said the 

Clara, however, dried the tea-things, and was glad to be on 
such good terms with his mother; but it was torture not to be 
able to follow him down the garden. At last she allowed her- 
self to go; she felt as if a rope were taken off her ankle. 

The afternoon was golden over the hills of Derbyshire. He 
stood across in the other garden, beside a bush of pale Michael- 
mas daisies, watching the last bees crawl into the hive. Hearing 
her coming, he turned to her with an easy motion, saying : 

"It's the end of the run with these chaps." 

Clara stood near him. Over the low red wall in front was the 
country and the far-off hills, all golden dim. 

At that moment Miriam was entering through the garden- 
door. She saw Clara go up to him, saw him turn, and saw them 
come to rest together. Something in their perfect isolation 
together made her know that it was accomplished between 
them, that they were, as she put it, married. She walked very 
slowly down the cinder-track of the long garden. 

Clara had pulled a button from a hollyhock spire, and was 
breaking it to get the seeds. Above her bowed head the pink 
flowers stared, as if defending her. The last bees were falling 
down to the hive. 

"Count your money," laughed Paul, as she broke the flat 
seeds one by one from the roll of coin. She looked at him. 

"I'm well off," she said, smiling. 

"How much? Pf !" He snapped his fingers. "Can I turn them 
into gold?" 

"I'm afraid not," she laughed. 


They looked into each other's eyes, laughing. At that moment 
they became aware of Miriam. There was a click, and every- 
thing had altered. 

"Hello, Miriam!" he exclaimed. "You said you'd come!" 

"Yes. Had you forgotten?" 

She shook hands with Clara, saying : 

"It seems strange to see you here." 

"Yes," replied the other; "it seems strange to be here." 

There was a hesitation. 

"This is pretty, isn't it?" said Miriam. 

"I like it very much," replied Clara. 

Then Miriam realised that Clara was accepted as she had 
never been. 

"Have you come down alone?" asked Paul. 

"Yes; 1 went to Agatha's to tea. We are going to chapel. 1 
only called in for a moment to see Clara." 

"You should have come in here to tea," he said. 

Miriam laughed shortly, and Clara turned impatiently aside. 

"Do you like the chrysanthemums?" he asked. 

"Yes; they are very fine," replied Miriam. 

"Which sort do you like best?" he asked. 

"I don't know. The bronze, 1 think." 

"I don't think you've seen all the sorts. Come and look. 
Come and see which are your favourites, Clara." 

He led the two women back to his own garden, where the 
towsled bushes of flowers of all colours stood raggedly along 
the path down to the field. The situation did not embarrass 
him, to his knowledge. 

"Look, Miriam; these are the white ones that came from 
your garden. They aren't so fine here, are they?" 

"No," said Miriam. 

"But they're hardier. You're so sheltered; things grow big 
and tender, and then die. These little yellow ones I like. Will 
you have some?" 

While they were out there the bells began to ring in the 
church, sounding loud across the town and the field. Miriam 
looked at the tower, proud among the clustering roofs, and 
remembered the sketches he had brought her. It had been 
different then, but he had not left her even yet. She asked him 
for a book to read. He ran indoors. 

"What! is that Miriam?" asked his mother coldly. 

"Yes; she said she'd call and see Clara." 


"You told her, then?" came the sarcastic answer. 

"Yes; why shouldn't 1?" 

"There's certainly no reason why you shouldn't/' said Mrs. 
Morel, and she returned to her book. He winced from his 
mother's irony, frowned irritably, thinking : "Why can't I do 
as I like?" 

"You've not seen Mrs. Morel before?" Miriam was saying to 

"No; but she's so nice!" 

"Yes," said Miriam, dropping her head; "in some ways she's 
very fine." 

"I should think so." 

"Had Paul told you much about her?" 

"He had talked a good deal." 


There was silence until he returned with the book. 

"When will you want it back?" Miriam asked. 

"When you like," he answered. 

Clara turned to go indoors, whilst he accompanied Miriam to 
the gate. 

"When will you come up to Willey Farm?" the latter asked. 

"I couldn't say," replied Clara. 

"Mother asked me to say she'd be pleased to see you any 
time, if you cared to come." 

"Thank you; 1 should like to, but 1 can't say when." 

"Oh, very well!" exclaimed Miriam rather bitterly, turning 

She went down the path with her mouth to the flowers he 
had given her. 

"You're sure you won't come in?" he said. 

"No, thanks." 

"We are going to chapel." 

"Ah, I shall see you, then!" Miriam was very bitter. 


They parted. He felt guilty towards her. She was bitter, and 
she scorned him. He still belonged to herself, she believed; yet 
he could have Clara, take her home, sit with her next his 
mother in chapel, give her the same hymn-book he had given 
herself years before. She heard him running quickly indoors. 

But he did not go straight in. Halting on the plot of grass, 
he heard his mother's voice, then Clara's answer : 

"What I hate is the bloodhound quality in Miriam." 


"Yes," said his mother quickly, "yes; doesn't it make you 
hate her, now!" 

His heart went hot, and he was angry with them for talking 
about the girl. What right had they to say that ? Something in 
the speech itself stung him into a flame of hate against Miriam. 
Then his own heart rebelled furiously at Clara's taking the 
liberty of speaking so about Miriam. After all, the girl was the 
better woman of the two, he thought, if it came to goodness. 
He went indoors. His mother looked excited. She was beating 
with her hand rhythmically on the sofa-arm, as women do who 
are wearing out. He could never bear to see the movement. 
There was a silence; then he began to talk. 

In chapel Miriam saw him find the place in the hymn- 
book for Clara, in exactly the same way as he used for herself. 
And during the sermon he could see the girl across the chapel, 
her hat throwing a dark shadow over her face. What did she 
think, seeing Clara with him ? He did not stop to consider. He 
felt himself cruel towards Miriam. 

After chapel he went over Pentrich with Clara. It was a 
dark autumn night. They had said good-bye to Miriam, and 
his heart had smitten him as he left the girl alone. "But it 
serves her right," he said inside himself, and it almost gave him 
pleasure to go off under her eyes with this other handsome 

There was a scent of damp leaves in the darkness. Clara's 
hand lay warm and inert in his own as they walked. He was 
full of conflict. The battle that raged inside him made him 
feel desperate. 

Up Pentrich Hill Clara leaned against him as he went. He 
slid his arm round her waist. Feeling the strong motion of her 
body under his arm as she walked, the tightness in his chest 
because of Miriam relaxed, and the hot blood bathed him. He 
held her closer and closer. 

Then : "You still keep on with Miriam," she said quietly. 

"Only talk. There never was a great deal more than talk 
between us," he said bitterly. 

"Your mother doesn't care for her," said Clara. 

"No, or 1 might have married her. But it's all up really!" 

Suddenly his voice went passionate vdth hate. 

"If I was with her now, we should be jawing about the 
'Christian Mystery', or some such tack. Thank God, I'm not!"- 

They walked on in silence for some time. 


"But you can't really give her up," said Clara. 

"I don't give her up, because there's nothing to give," he 

"There is for her." 

"I don't know why she and 1 shouldn't be friends as long 
as we live," he said. "But it'll only be friends." 

Clara drew away from him, leaning away from contact 
with him. 

"What are you drawing away for?" he asked. 

She did not answer, but drew farther from him. 

"Why do you want to walk alone?" he asked. 

Still there was no answer. She walked resentfully, hanging 
her head. 

"Because I said I would be friends with Miriam!" he 

She would not answer him anything. 

"I tell you it's only words that go between us," he persisted, 
trying to take her again. 

She resisted. Suddenly he strode across in front of her, bar- 
ring her way. 

"Damn it!" he said. "What do you want now?" 

"You'd better run after Miriam," mocked Clara. 

The blood flamed up in him. He stood showing his teeth. 
She drooped sulkily. The lane was dark, quite lonely. He 
suddenly caught her in his arms, stretched forward, and put 
his mouth on her face in a kiss of rage. She turned frantically 
to avoid him. He held her fast. Hard and relentless his mouth 
came for her. Her breasts hurt against the wall of his chest. 
Helpless, she went loose in his arms, and he kissed her, and 
kissed her. 

He heard people coming down the hill. 

"Stand up ! stand up ! " he said thickly, gripping her arm till 
it hurt. If he had let go, she would have sunk to the ground. 

She sighed and walked dizzily beside him. They went on in 

"We will go over the fields," he said; and then she woke up. 

But she let herself be helped over the stile, and she walked 
in silence with him over the first dark field. It was the way to 
Nottingham and to the station, she knew. He seemed to be 
looking about. They came out on a bare hilltop where stood 
the dark figure of the ruined windmill. There he halted. They 
stood together high up in the darkness, looking at the lights 


scattered on the night before them, handfuls of glittering 
points, villages lying high and low on the dark, here and there. 

"Like treading among the stars," he said, with a quaky laugh. 

Then he took her in his arms, and held her fast. She moved 
aside her mouth to ask, dogged and low : 

"What time is it?" 

"It doesn't matter," he pleaded thickly. 

"Yes it does — yes! 1 must go!" 

"It's early yet," he said. 

"What time is it?" she insisted. 

All round lay the black night, speckled and spangled with 

"I don't know." 

She put her hand on his chest, feeling for his watch. He felt 
the joints fuse into fire. She groped in his waistcoat pocket, 
while he stood panting. In the darkness she could see the 
round, pale face of the watch, but not the figures. She stooped 
over it. He was panting till he could take her in his arms again. 

"1 can't see," she said. 

"Then don't bother." 

"Yes; I'm going!" she said, turning away. 

"Wait ! I'll look ! " But he could not see. "I'll strike a match." 

He secretly hoped it was too late to catch the train. She saw 
the glowing lantern of his hands as he cradled the light : then 
his face lit up, his eyes fixed on the watch. Instantly all was 
dark again. All was black before her eyes; only a glowing 
match was red near her feet. Where was he? 

"What is it?" she asked, afraid. 

"You can't do it," his voice answered out of the darkness. 

There was a pause. She felt in his power. She had heard the 
ring in his voice. It frightened her. 

"What time is it?" she asked, quiet, definite, hopeless. 

"Two minutes to nine," he replied, telling the truth with a 

"And can I get from here to the station in fourteen minutes ?" 

"No. At any rate " 

She could distinguish his dark form again a yard or so away. 
She wanted to escape. 

"But can't I do it?" she pleaded. 

"If you hurry," he said brusquely. "But you could easily 
walk It, Clara; it's only seven miles to the tram. I'll come 
with you." 


"No; I want to catch the train." 

"But why?" 

"I do — I want to catch the train." 

Suddenly his voice altered. 

"Very well," he said, dry and hard. "Come along, then." 

And he plunged ahead into the darkness. She ran after him, 
wanting to cry. Now he was hard and cruel to her. She ran 
over the rough, dark fields behind him, out of breath, ready to 
drop. But the double row of lights at the station drew nearer. 
Suddenly : 

"There she is!" he cried, breaking into a run. 

There was a faint rattling noise. Away to the right the train, 
like a luminous caterpillar, was threading across the night. The 
rattling ceased. 

"She's over the viaduct. You'll just do it." 

Clara ran, quite out of breath, and fell at last into the train. 
The whistle blew. He was gone. Gone! — and she was in a 
carriage full of people. She felt the cruelty of it. 

He turned round and plunged home. Before he knew where 
he was he was in the kitchen at home. He was very pale. His 
eyes were dark and dangerous-looking, as if he were drunk. 
His mother looked at him. 

"Well, 1 must say your boots are in a nice state!" she said. 

He looked at his feet. Then he took off his overcoat. His 
mother wondered if he were drunk. 

"She caught the train then?" she said. 


"I hope her feet weren't so filthy. Where on earth you 
dragged her I don't know!" 

He was silent and motionless for some time. 

"Did you like her?" he asked grudgingly at last. 

"Yes, I liked her. But you'll tire of her, my son; you know 
you will." 

He did not answer. She noticed how he laboured in his 

"Have you been running?" she asked. 

"We had to run for the train." 

"You'll go and knock yourself up. You'd better drink hot 

It was as good a stimulant as he could have, but he refused 
and went to bed. There he lay face down on the counterpane, 
and shed tears of rage and pain. There was a physical pain 


that made him bite his lips till they bled, and the chaos inside 
him left him unable to think, almost to feel. 

"This is how she serves me, is it?" he said in his heart, over 
and over, pressing his face in the quilt. And he hated her. 
Again he went over the scene, and again he hated her. 

The next day there was a new aloofness about him. Clara 
was very gentle, almost loving. But he treated her distantly, 
with a touch of contempt. She sighed, continuing to be gentle. 
He came round. 

One evening of that week Sarah Bernhardt was at the 
Theatre Royal in Nottingham, giving "La Dame aux Camelias". 
Paul wanted to see this old and famous actress, and he asked 
Clara to accompany him. He told his mother to leave the key 
in the window for him. 

"Shall I book seats?" he asked of Clara. 

"Yes. And put on an evening suit, will you ? I've never seen 
you in it." 

"But, good Lord, Clara ! Think of me in evening suit at the 
theatre!" he remonstrated. 

"Would you rather not?" she asked. 

"1 will if you want me to; but I s'll feel a fool." 

She laughed at him. 

"Then feel a fool for my sake, once, won't you?" 

The request made his blood flush up. 

"1 suppose I s'll have to." 

"What are you taking a suitcase for?" his mother asked. 

He blushed furiously. 

"Clara asked me," he said. 

"And what seats are you going in?" 

"Circle — three-and-six each ! " 

■'Well, I'm sure!" exclaimed his mother sarcastically. 

"It's only once in the bluest of blue moons," he said. 

He dressed at Jordan's, put on an overcoat and a cap, and 
met Clara in a cafe. She was with one of her suffragette friends. 
She wore an old long coat, which did not suit her, and had a 
little wrap over her head, which he hated. The three went to 
the theatre together. 

Clara took off her coat on the stairs, and he discovered she 
was in a sort of semi-evening dress, that left her arms and neck 
and part of her breast bare. Her hair was done fashionably. 
The dress, a simple thing of green crape, suited her. She looked 
quite grand, he thought. He could see her figure inside the 


frock, as if that were wrapped closely round her. The firm- 
ness and the softness of her upright body could almost be felt 
as he looked at her. He clenched his fists. 

And he was to sit all the evening beside her beautiful naked 
arm, watching the strong throat rise from the strong chest, 
watching the breasts under the green stuff, the curve of her 
limbs in the tight dress. Something in him hated her again 
for submitting him to this torture of nearness. And he loved 
her as she balanced her head and stared straight in front of 
her, pouting, wistful, immobile, as if she yielded herself to her 
fate because it was too strong for her. She could not help her- 
self; she was in the grip of something bigger than her- 
self. A kind of eternal look about her, as if she were a wistful 
sphinx, made it necessary for him to kiss her. He dropped his 
programme, and crouched down on the floor to get it, so that 
he could kiss her hand and wrist. Her beauty was a torture to 
him. She sat immobile. Only, when the lights went down, she 
sank a little against him, and he caressed her hand and arm 
with his fingers. He could smell her faint perfume. All the 
time his blood kept sweeping up in great white-hot waves that 
killed his consciousness momentarily. 

The drama continued. He saw it all in the distance, going 
on somewhere; he did not know where, but it seemed far away 
inside him. He was Clara's white heavy arms, her throat, her 
moving bosom. That seemed to be himself. Then away some- 
where the play went on, and he was identified with that also. 
There was no himself. The grey and black eyes of Clara, her 
bosom coming down on him, her arm that he held gripped 
between his hands, were all that existed. Then he felt himself 
small and helpless, her towering in her force above him. 

Only the intervals, when the lights came up, hurt him 
expressibly. He wanted to run anywhere, so long at it would 
be dark again. In a maze, he wandered out for a drink. Then 
the lights were out, and the strange, insane reality of Clara 
and the drama took hold of him again. 

The play went on. But he was obsessed by the desire to kiss 
the tiny blue vein that nestled in the bend of her arm. He 
could feel it. His whole face seemed suspended till he had put 
his lips there. It must be done. And the other people ! At last 
he bent quickly forward and touched it with his lips. His 
moustache brushed the sensitive flesh. Clara shivered, drew 
away her arm. 


When all was over, the lights up, the people clapping, he 
came to himself and looked at his watch. His train was gone. 

"I s'U have to walk home!" he said. 

Clara looked at him. 

"It is too late?" she asked. 

He nodded. Then he helped her on with her coat. 

"1 love you! You look beautiful in that dress," he murmured 
over her shoulder, among the throng of bustling people. 

She remained quiet. Together they went out of the theatre. 
He saw the cabs waiting, the people passing. It seemed he 
met a pair of brown eyes which hated him. But he did not 
know. He and Clara turned away, mechanically taking the 
direction to the station. 

The train had gone. He would have to walk the ten miles 

"It doesn't matter," he said. "1 shall enjoy it." 

"Won't you," she said, flushing, "come home for the night? 
1 can sleep with mother." 

He looked at her. Their eyes met. 

"What will your mother say?" he asked. 

"She won't mind." 

"You're sure?" 


''Sh<ill 1 come?" 

"If you will." 

"Very well." 

And they turned away. At the first stopping-place they took 
the car. The wind blew fresh in their faces. The town was dark; 
the tram tipped in its haste. He sat with her hand fast in his. 

"Will your mother be gone to bed?" he asked. 

"She may be. I hope not." 

They hurried along the silent, dark little street, the only 
people out of doors. Clara quickly entered the house. He 

He leaped up the step and was in the room. Her mother 
appeared in the inner doorway, large and hostile. 

"Who have you got there?" she asked. 

"It's Mr. Morel; he has missed his train. I thought we might 
put him up for the night, and save him a ten-mile walk." 

"H'm" exclaimed Mrs. Radford. "That's your look-out! If 
you've invited him, he's very welcome as far as I'm concerned. 
You keep the house!" 


"If you don't like me, I'll go away again," he said. 

"Nay, nay, you needn't ! Come along in ! I dunno what you'll 
think of the supper I'd got her." 

It was a little dish of chip potatoes and a piece of bacon. 
The table was roughly laid for one. 

"You can have some more bacon," continued Mrs. Radford. 
"More chips you can't have." 

"It's a shame to bother you," he said. 

"Oh, don't you be apologetic! It doesn't do wi' me! You 
treated her to the theatre, didn't you?" There was a sarcasm 
in the last question. 

"Well?" laughed Paul uncomfortably. 

"Well, and what's an inch of bacon ! Take your coat off." 

The big, straight-standing woman was trying to estimate the 
situation. She moved about the cupboard. Clara took his coat. 
The room was very warm and cosy in the lamplight. 

"My sirs!" exclaimed Mrs. Radford; "but you two's a 
pair of bright beauties, I must say! What's all that get-up 

"I believe we don't know," he said, feeling a victim. 

"There isn't room in this house for two such bobby-dazzlers, 
if you fly your kites that high!" she rallied them. It was a 
nasty thrust. 

He in his dinner jacket, and Clara in her green dress and bare 
arms, were confused. They felt they must shelter each other 
in that little kitchen. 

"And look at that blossom ! " continued Mrs. Radford, point- 
ing to Clara. "What does she reckon she did it for?" 

Paul looked at Clara. She was rosy; her neck was warm with 
blushes. There was a moment of silence. 

"You like to see it, don't you?" he asked. 

The mother had them in her power. All the time his heart 
was beating hard, and he was tight with anxiety. But he 
would fight her. 

"Me like to see it!" exclaimed the old woman. "What 
should 1 like to see her make a fool of herself for?" 

"I've seen people look bigger fools," he said. Clara was under 
his protection now. 

"Oh, ay! and when was that?" came the sarcastic rejoinder. 

"When they made frights of themselves," he answered. 

Mrs. Radford, large and threatening, stood suspended on the 
hearthrug, holding her fork. 


"They're fools either road," she answered at length, turning 
to the Dutch oven. 

"No," he said, fighting stoutly. "Folk ought to look as well 
as they can." 

"And do you call that looking nice!" cried the mother, 
pointing a scornful fork at Clara. "That — that looks as if it 
wasn't properly dressed!" 

"I believe you're jealous that you can't swank as well," he 
said laughing. 

"Me! I could have worn evening dress with anybody, if I'd 
wanted to!" came the scornful answer. 

"And why didn't you want to?" he asked pertinently. "Or 
did you wear it?" 

Ihere was a long pause. Mrs. Radford readjusted the bacon 
in the Dutch oven. His heart beat fast, for fear he had offended 

"Me!" she exclaimed at last. "No, I didn't! And when I was 
in service, 1 knew as soon as one of the maids came out 
in bare shoulders what sort she was, going to her sixpenny 

"Were you too good to go to a sixpenny hop?" he said. 

Clara sat with bowed head. His eyes were dark and glitter- 
ing. Mrs. Radford took the Dutch oven from the fire, and stood 
near him, putting bits of bacon on his plate. 

"There's a nice crozzly bit!" she said. 

"Don't give me the best!" he said. 

"She's got what she wants," was the answer. 

There was a sort of scornful forbearance in the woman's tone 
that made Paul know she was mollified. 

"But do have some!" he said to Clara. 

She looked up at him with her grey eyes, humiliated and 

"No thanks!" she said. 

"Why won't you?" he answered carelessly. 

The blood was beating up like fire in his veins. Mrs. Radford 
sat down again, large and impressive and aloof. He left Clara 
altogether to attend to the mother. 

"They say Sarah Bernhardt's fifty," he said. 

"Fifty! She's turned sixty!" came the scornful answer. 

"Well," he said, "you'd never think it! She made me want 
to howl even now." 

"I should like to see myself howling at that bad old baggage!" 


said Mrs. Radford. "It's time she began to think herself a grand- 
mother, not a shrieking catamaran " 

He laughed. 

"A catamaran is a boat the Malays use," he said. 

"And it's a word as / use," she retorted. 

"My mother does sometimes, and it's no good my telling 
her," he said. 

"I s'd think she boxes your ears," said Mrs. Radford, good- 

"She'd like to, and she says she will, so I give her a little 
stool to stand on." 

"That's the worst of my mother," said Clara. "She never 
wants a stool for anything." 

"But she often can't touch that lady with a long prop," 
retorted Mrs. Radford to Paul. 

"I s'd think she doesn't want touching with a prop," he 
laughed. "/ shouldn't." 

"It might do the pair of you good to give you a crack on the 
head with one," said the mother, laughing suddenly. 

"Why are you so vindictive towards me?" he said. "I've not 
stolen anything from you." 

"No; I'll watch that," laughed the older woman. 

Soon the supper was finished. Mrs. Radford sat guard in her 
chair. Paul lit a cigarette. Clara went upstairs, returning with 
a sleeping-suit, which she spread on the fender to air. 

"Why, I'd forgot all about themr said Mrs. Radford. "Where 
have they sprung from?" 

"Out of my drawer." 

"H'm ! You bought 'em for Baxter, an' he wouldn't wear 'em, 
would he ?" — 'laughing. "Said he reckoned to do wi'out trousers 
i' bed." She turned confidentially to Paul, saying : "He couldn't 
bear 'em, them pyjama things." 

The young man sat making rings of smoke. 

"Well, it's everyone to his taste," he laughed. 

Then followed a little discussion of the merits of pyjamas. 

"My mother loves me in them," he said. "She says I'm a 

"I can imagine they'd suit you," said Mrs. Radford. 

After a while he glanced at the little clock that was ticking 
on the mantelpiece. It was half-past twelve. 

"It is funny," he said, "but it takes hours to settle down to 
sleep after the theatre." 


"It's about time you did," said Mrs. Radford, clearing the 

"Are you tired?" he asked of Clara. 

"Not the least bit," she answered, avoiding his eyes. 

"Shall we have a game at cribbage?" he said. 

"I've forgotten it." 

"Well, I'll teach you again. May we play crib, Mrs Rad- 
ford?" he asked. 

"You'll please yourselves," she said; "but it's pretty late." 

"A game or so wall make us sleepy," he answered. 

Clara brought the cards, and sat spinning her wedding-ring 
whilst he shuffled them. Mrs. Radford was washing up in the 
scullery. As it grew later Paul felt the situation getting more 
and more tense. 

"Fifteen two, fifteen four, fifteen six, and two's eight !" 

The clock struck one. Still the game continued. Mrs. Radford 
had done all the little jobs preparatory to going to bed, had 
locked the door and filled the kettle. Still Paul went on dealing 
and counting. He was obsessed by Clara's arms and throat. He 
believed he could see where the division was just beginning for 
her breasts. He could not leave her. She watched his hands, 
and felt her joints melt as they moved quickly. She was so 
near; it was almost as if he touched her, and yet not quite. His 
mettle was roused. He hated Mrs. Radford. She sat on, nearly 
dropping asleep, but determined and obstinate in her chair. Paul 
glanced at her, then at Clara. She met his eyes, that were angry, 
mocking, and hard as steel. Her own answered him in shame. 
He knew she, at any rate, was of his mind. He played on. 

At last Mrs. Radford roused herself stiffly, and said : 

"Isn't it nigh on time you two was thinking o' bed?" 

Paul played on without answering. He hated her sufficiently 
to murder her. 

"Half a minute," he said. 

The elder woman rose and sailed stubbornly into the scullery, 
returning with his candle, which she put on the mantelpiece. 
Then she sat down again. The hatred of her went so hot down 
his veins, he dropped his cards. 

"We'll stop, then," he said, but his voice was still a challenge. 

Clara saw his mouth shut hard. Again he glanced at her. It 
seemed like an agreement. She bent over the cards, coughing, 
to clear her throat. 

"Well, I'm glad you've finished," said Mrs. Radford. "Here, 


take your things" — she thrust the warm suit in his hand — "and 
this is your candle. Your room's over this; there's only two, so 
you can't go far wrong. Well, good-night. 1 hope you'll rest 

"I'm sure I shall; I always do," he said. 

"Yes; and so you ought at your age," she replied. 

He bade good-night to Clara, and went. The twisting stairs 
of white, scrubbed wood creaked and clanged at every step. He 
went doggedly. The two doors faced each other. He went in 
his room, pushed the door to, without fastening the latch. 

It was a small room with a large bed. Some of Clara's hair- 
pins were on the dressing-table — her hair-brush. Her clothes 
and some skirts hung under a cloth in a corner. There was 
actually a pair of stockings over a chair. He explored the room. 
Two books of his own were there on the shelf. He undressed, 
folded his suit, and sat on the bed, listening. Then he blew out 
the candle, lay down, and in two minutes was almost asleep. 
Then click! — he was wide awake and writhing in torment. It 
was as if, when he had nearly got to sleep, something had 
bitten him suddenly and sent him mad. He sat up and looked 
at the room in the darkness, his feet doubled under him, per- 
fectly motionless, listening. He heard a cat somewhere away 
outside; then the heavy, poised tread of the mother; then Clara's 
distinct voice: 

"Will you unfasten my dress?" 

There was silence for some time. At last the mother said : 

"Now then! aren't you coming up?" 

"No, not yet," replied the daughter calmly. 

"Oh, very well then ! If it's not late enough, stop a bit longer. 
Only you needn't come waking me up when I've got to sleep." 

"I shan't be long," said Clara. 

Immediately afterwards Paul heard the mother slowly 
mounting the stairs. The candlelight flashed through the 
cracks in his door. Her dress brushed the door, and his heart 
jumped. Then it was dark, and he heard the clatter of her latch. 
She was very leisurely indeed in her preparations for sleep. 
After a long time it was quite still. He sat strung up on the bed, 
shivering slightly. His door was an inch open. As Clara came 
upstairs, he would intercept her. He waited. All was dead 
silence. The clock struck two. Then he heard a slight scrape 
of the fender downstairs. Now he could not help himself. His 
shivering was uncontrollable. He felt he must go or die. 


He stepped off the bed, and stood a moment, shuddering. 
Then he went straight to the door. He tried to step lightly. The 
first stair cracked like a shot. He listened. The old woman 
stirred in her bed. The staircase was dark. There was a slit of 
light under the stair-foot door, which opened into the kitchen. 
He stood a moment. Then he went on, mechanically. Every 
step creaked, and his back was creeping, lest the old woman's 
door should open behind him up above. He fumbled with the 
door at the bottom. The latch opened with a loud clack. He 
went through into the kitchen, and shut the door noisily behind 
him. The old woman daren't come now. 

Then he stood, arrested. Clara was kneeling on a pile of 
white underclothing on the hearth-rug, her back towards him, 
warming herself. She did not look round, but sat crouching on 
her heels, and her rounded beautiful back was towards him, 
and her face was hidden. She was warming her body at the fire 
for consolation. The glow was rosy on one side, the shadow 
was dark and warm on the other. Her arms hung slack. 

He shuddered violently, clenching his teeth and fists hard to 
keep control. Then he went forward to her. He put one hand 
on her shoulder, the fingers of the other hand under her chin 
to raise her face. A convulsed shiver ran through her, once, 
twice, at his touch. She kept her head bent. 

"Sorry!" he murmured, realising that his hands were very 

Then she looked up at him, frightened, like a thing that is 
afraid of death. 

"My hands are so cold," he murmured. 

"I like it," she whispered, closing her eyes. 

The breath of her words were on his mouth. Her arms 
clasped his knees. The cord of his sleeping-suit dangled against 
her and made her shiver. As the warmth went into him, his 
shuddering became less. 

At length, unable to stand so any more, he raised her, and 
she buried her head on his shoulder. His hands went over her 
slowly with an infinite tenderness of caress. She clung close to 
him, trying to hide herself against him. He clasped her very 
fast. Then at last she looked at him, mute, imploring, looking 
to see if she must be ashamed. 

His eyes were dark, very deep, and very quiet. It was as if 
her beauty and his taking it hurt him, made him sorrowful. He 
looked at her with a little pain, and was afraid. He was so 


humble before her. She kissed him fervently on the eyes, first 
one, then the other, and she folded herself to him. She gave 
herself. He held her fast. It was a moment intense almost to 

She stood letting him adore her and tremble with joy of 
her. It healed her hurt pride. It healed her; it made her glad. 
It made her feel erect and proud again. Her pride had been 
wounded inside her. She had been cheapened. Now she radiated 
with joy and pride again. It was her restoration and her 

Then he looked at her, his face radiant. They laughed to 
each other, and he strained her to his chest. The seconds ticked 
off, the minutes passed, and still the two stood clasped rigid 
together, mouth to mouth, like a statue in one block. 

But again his fingers went seeking over her, restless, wander- 
ing, dissatisfied. The hot blood came up wave upon wave. She 
laid her head on his shoulder. 

"Come you to my room," he murmured. 

She looked at him and shook her head, her mouth pouting 
disconsolately, her eyes heavy with passion. He watched her 

"Yes!" he said. 

Again she shook her head. 

"Why not?" he asked. 

She looked at him still heavily, sorrowfully, and again she 
shook her head. His eyes hardened, and he gave way. 

When, later on, he was back in bed, he wondered why she 
had refused to come to him openly, so that her mother would 
know. At any rate, then things would have been definite. And 
she could have stayed with him the night, without having to 
go, as she was, to her mother's bed. It was strange, and he 
could not understand it. And then almost immediately he fell 

He awoke in the morning with someone speaking to him. 
Opening his eyes, he saw Mrs. Radford, big and stately, looking 
down on him. She held a cup of tea in her hand. 

"Do you think you're going to sleep till Doomsday?" she 

He laughed at once. 

"It ought only to be about five o'clock," he said. 

"Well," she answered, "it's half-past seven, whether or not. 
Here, I've brought you a cup of tea." 


He rubbed his face, pushed the tumbled hair off his forehead, 
and roused himself. 

"What's it so late for!" he grumbled. 

He resented being wakened. It amused her. She saw his neck 
in the flannel sleeping-jacket, as white and round as a girl's. He 
rubbed his hair crossly. 

"It's no good your scratching your head," she said. "It won't 
make it no earlier. Here, an' how long d'you think I'm going 
to stand waiting wi' this here cup?" 

"Oh, dash the cup!" he said. 

"You should go to bed earlier," said the woman. 

He looked up at her, laughing with impudence. 

"I went to bed before you did," he said. 

"Yes, my Guyney, you did!" she exclaimed. 

"Fancy," he said, stirring his tea, "having tea brought to 
bed to me! My mother'U think I'm ruined for life." 

"Don't she never do it?" asked Mrs. Radford. 

"She'd as leave think of flying." 

"Ah, I always spoilt my lot ! That's why they've turned out 
such bad uns," said the elderly woman. 

"You'd only Clara," he said. "And Mr. Radford's in heaven. 
So I suppose there's only you left to be the bad un." 

"I'm not bad; I'm only soft," she said, as she went out of 
the bedroom. "I'm only a fool, I am!" 

Clara was very quiet at breakfast, but she had a sort of air 
of proprietorship over him that pleased him infinitely. Mrs. 
Radford was evidently fond of him. He began to talk of his 

"What's the good," exclaimed the mother, "of your whit- 
tling and worrying and twistin' and too-in' at that painting of 
yours ? What good does it do you, I should like to know ? You'd 
better be en joy in' yourself." 

"Oh, but," exclaimed Paul, "I made over thirty guineas last 

"Did you! Well, that's a consideration, but it's nothing to 
the time you put in." 

"And I've got four pounds owing. A man said he'd give me 
five pounds if I'd paint him and his missis and the dog and the 
cottage. And I went and put the fowls in instead of the dog, 
and he was waxy, so 1 had to knock a quid off. I was sick of 
it, and I didn't like the dog. I made a picture of it. What shall 
I do when he pays me the four pounds?" 


"Nay! you know your own uses for your money," said Mrs. 

"But I'm going to bust this four pounds. Should we go to the 
seaside for a day or two?" 


"You and Clara and me." 

"What, on your money!" she exclaimed, half- wrathful. 

"Why not?" 

"You wouldn't be long in breaking your neck at a hurdle 
race ! " she said. 

"So long as I get a good run for my money! Will you?" 

"Nay; you may settle that atween you." 

"And you're willing?" he asked, amazed and rejoicing. 

"You'll do as you like," said Mrs. Radford, "whether I'm 
willing or not." 



Soon after Paul had been to the theatre with Clara, he was 
drinking in the Punch Bowl with some friends of his when 
Dawes came in. Clara's husband was growing stout; his eye- 
lids were getting slack over his brown eyes; he was losing his 
healthy firmness of flesh. He was very evidently on the down- 
ward track. Having quarrelled with his sister, he had gone into 
cheap lodgings. His mistress had left him for a man who would 
marry her. He had been in prison one night for fighting when 
he was drunk, and there was a shady betting episode in which 
he was concerned. 

Paul and he were confirmed enemies, and yet there was 
between them that peculiar feeling of intimacy, as if they were 
secretly near to each other, which sometimes exists between 
two people, although they never speak to one another. Paul 
often thought of Baxter Dawes, often wanted to get at him and 
be friends with him. He knew that Dawes often thought about 
him, and that the man was drawn to him by some bond or 
other. And yet the two never looked at each other save in 

Since he was a superior employee at Jordan's, it was the thing 
for Paul to offer Dawes a drink. 


"What'll you have?" he asked of him. 

"Nowt wi' a bleeder like you!" replied the man. 

Paul turned away with a slight disdainful movement of the 
shoulders, very irritating. 

"The aristocracy," he continued, "is really a military institu- 
tion. Take Germany, now. She's got thousands of aristocrats 
whose only means of existence is the army. They're deadly 
poor, and life's deadly slow. So they hope for a war. They 
look for war as a chance of getting on. Till there's a war they 
are idle good-for-nothings. When there's a war, they are leaders 
and commanders. There you are, then — they want war ! " 

He was not a favourite debater in the public-house, being 
too quick and overbearing. He irritated the older men by his 
assertive manner, and his cocksureness. They listened in silence, 
and were not sorry when he finished. 

Dawes interrupted the young man's flow of eloquence by 
asking, in a loud sneer : 

"Did you learn all that at th' theatre th' other night?" 

Paul looked at him; their eyes met. Then he knew Dawes 
had seen him coming out of the theatre with Clara. 

"Why, what about th' theatre?" asked one of Paul's associ- 
ates, glad to get a dig at the young fellow, and sniffing some- 
thing tasty. 

"Oh, him in a bob-tailed evening suit, on the lardy-da!" 
sneered Dawes, jerking his head contemptuously at Paul. 

"That's com in' it strong," said the mutual friend. "Tart an' 

"Tart, begod!" said Dawes. 

"Go on; let's have it!" cried the mutual friend. 

"You've got it," said Dawes, "an' I reckon Morelly had it 
an' all." 

"Well, I'll be jiggered!" said the mutual friend. "An' was 
it a proper tart?" 

"Tart, God blimey — yes!" 

"How do you know?" 

"Oh," said Dawes, "I reckon he spent th' night " 

There was a good deal of laughter at Paul's expense. 

"But who was she? D'you know her?" asked the mutual 

"1 should shay sho," said Dawes. 

This brought another burst of laughter. 

"Then spit it out," said the mutual friend. 


Dawes shook his head, and took a gulp of beer. 

"It's a wonder he hasn't let on himself," he said. "He'll be 
braggin' of it in a bit." 

"Come on, Paul," said the friend; "it's no good. You might 
just as well own up." 

"Own up what? That 1 happened to take a friend to the 

"Oh well, if it was all right, tell us who she was, lad," said 
the friend. 

"She was all right," said Dawes. 

Paul was furious. Dawes wiped his golden moustache with 
his fingers, sneering. 

"Strike me ! One o' that sort?" said the mutual friend. 

"Paul, boy, I'm surprised at you. And do you know her, 

"Just a bit, like!" 

He winked at the other men. 

"Oh well," said Paul, "I'll be going!" 

The mutual friend laid a detaining hand on his shoulder. 

"Nay," he said, "you don't get off as easy as that, my lad. 
We've got to have a full account of this business." 

"Then get it from Dawes!" he said. 

"You shouldn't funk your own deeds, man," remonstrated 
the friend. 

Then Dawes made a remark which caused Paul to throw half 
a glass of beer in his face. 

"Oh, Mr. Morel!" cried the barmaid, and she rang the bell 
for the "chucker-out". 

Dawes spat and rushed for the young man. At that minute 
a brawny fellow vnth his shirt-sleeves rolled up and his trousers 
tight over his haunches intervened. 

"Now, then!" he said, pushing his chest in front of Dawes. 

"Come out!" cried Dawes. 

Paul was leaning, white and quivering, against the brass rail 
of the bar. He hated Dawes, wished something could exter- 
minate him at that minute; and at the same time, seeing the 
wet hair on the man's forehead, he thought he looked pathetic. 
He did not move. 

"Come out, you ," said Dawes. 

"That's enough, Dawes," cried the barmaid. 

"Come on," said the "chucker-out", with kindly insistence, 
"you'd better be getting on." 


And, by making Dawes edge away from his own close 
proximity, he worked him to the door. 

"That's the little sod as started it!" cried Dawes, half-cowed, 
pointing to Paul Morel. 

"Why, what a story, Mr. Dawes!" said the barmaid. "You 
know it was you all the time." 

Still the "chucker-out" kept thrusting his chest forward at 
him, still he kept edging back, until he was in the doorway and 
on the steps outside; then he turned round. 

"All right," he said, nodding straight at his rival. 

Paul had a curious sensation of pity, almost of affection, 
mingled with violent hate, for the man. The coloured door 
swung to; there was silence in the bar. 

"Serve him jolly well right!" said the barmaid. 

"But it's a nasty thing to get a glass of beer in your eyes," 
said the mutual friend. 

"I tell you / was glad he did," said the barmaid. "Will you 
have another, Mr. Morel?" 

She held up Paul's glass questioningly. He nodded. 

"He's a man as doesn't care for anything, is Baxter Dawes," 
said one. 

"Pooh! is he?" said the barmaid. "He's a loud-mouthed one, 
he is, and they're never much good. Give me a pleasant-spoken 
chap, if you want a devil ! " 

"Well, Paul, my lad," said the friend, "you'll have to take 
care of yourself now for a while." 

"You won't have to give him a chance over you, that's all," 
said the barmaid. 

"Can you box?" asked a friend. 

"Not a bit," he answered, still very white. 

"I might give you a turn or two," said the friend. 

"Thanks, I haven't time." 

And presently he took his departure. 

"Go along with him, Mr. Jenkinson," whispered the barmaid, 
tipping Mr. Jenkinson the wink. 

The man nodded, took his hat, said : "Good-night all ! " very 
heartily, and followed Paul, calling: 

"Half a minute, old man. You an' me's going the same road, 
I believe." 

"Mr. Morel doesn't like it," said the barmaid. "You'll see, we 
shan't have him in much more. I'm sorry; he's good company. 
And Baxter Dawes wants locking up, that's what he wants." 


Paul would have died rather than his mother should get to 
know of this alFair. He suffered tortures of humiliation and 
self-consciousness. There was now a good deal of his life of 
which necessarily he could not speak to his mother. He had a 
life apart from her — his sexual life. The rest she still kept. But 
he felt he had to conceal something from her, and it irked him. 
There was a certain silence between them, and he felt he had, 
in that silence, to defend himself against her; he felt condemned 
by her. Then sometimes he hated her, and pulled at her bond- 
age. His life wanted to free itself of her. It was like a circle 
where life turned back on itself, and got no farther. She bore 
him, loved him, kept him, and his love turned back into her, 
so that he could not be free to go forward with his own life, 
really love another woman. At this period, unknowingly, he 
resisted his mother's influence. He did not tell her things; there 
was a distance between them. 

Clara was happy, almost sure of him. She felt she had at last 
got him for herself; and then again came the uncertainty. He 
told her jestingly of the affair with her husband. Her colour 
came up, her grey eyes flashed. 

"That's him to a T'," she cried — "like a navvy ! He's not fit 
for mixing with decent folk." 

"Yet you married him," he said. 

It made her furious that he reminded her. 

"I did!" she cried. "But how was I to know?" 

"I think he might have been rather nice," he said. 

"You think I made him what he is ! " she exclaimed. 

"Oh no! he made himself. But there's something about 
him " 

Clara looked at her lover closely. There was something in 
him she hated, a sort of detached criticism of herself, a cold 
ness which made her woman's soul harden against him. 

"And what are you going to do?" she asked. 


"About Baxter." 

"There's nothing to do, is there?" he replied. 

"You can fight him if you have to, 1 suppose?" she said. 

"No; I haven't the least sense of the 'fist'. It's funny. With 
most men there's the instinct to clench the fist and hit. It's not 
so with me. I should want a knife or a pistol or something to 
fight with." 

"Then you'd better carry something," she said. 


"Nay," he laughed; "I'm not daggeroso." 

"But he'll do something to you. You don't know him." 

"All right/' he said, "we'll see." 

"And you'll let him?" 

"Perhaps, if I can't help it." 

"And if he kills you?" she said. 

"1 should be sorry, for his sake and mine." 

Clara was silent for a moment. 

"You do make me angry!" she exclaimed. 

"That's nothing afresh," he laughed. 

"But why are you so silly? You don't know him." 

"And don't want." 

"Yes, but you're not going to let a man do as he likes with 

"What must I do?" he replied, laughing. 

"7 should carry a revolver," she said. "I'm sure he's 

"I might blow my fingers off," he said. 

"No; but won't you?" she pleaded. 


"Not anything?" 


"And you'll leave him to ?" 


"You are a fool!" 


She set her teeth with anger. 

"I could shake you!" she cried, trembling with passion. 


"Let a man like him do as he likes with you." 

"You can go back to him if he triumphs," he said. 

"Do you want me to hate you?" she asked. 

"Well, I only tell you," he said. 

"And you say you love me!" she exclaimed, low and in- 

"Ought I to slay him to please you?" he said. "But if I did, 
see what a hold he'd have over me." 

"Do you think I'm a fool ! " she exclaimed. 

"Not at all. But you don't understand me, my dear." 

There was a pause between them. 

"But you ought not to expose yourself," she pleaded. 

He shrugged his shoulders. 


" The man in righteousness arrayed. 
The pure and blameless liver. 
Needs not the keen Toledo blade. 
Nor venom-freighted quiver,' " 

he quoted. 

She looked at him searchingly. 

"I wish I could understand you," she said. 

"There's simply nothing to understand," he laughed. 

She bowed her head, brooding. 

He did not see Dawes for several days; then one morning as 
he ran upstairs from the Spiral room he almost collided with 
the burly metal-worker, 

"What the !" cried the smith. 

"Sorry!" said Paul, and passed on. 

"Sorry!" sneered Dawes. 

Paul whistled lightly, "Put Me among the Girls". 

"I'll stop your whistle, my jockey ! " he said. 

The other took no notice. 

"You're goin' to answer for that job of the other night." 

Paul went to his desk in his corner, and turned over the 
leaves of the ledger, 

"Go and tell Fanny I want order 097, quick!" he said to his 

Dawes stood in the doorway, tall and threatening, looking at 
the top of the young man's head. 

"Six and five's eleven and seven's one-and-six," Paul added 

"An' you hear, do you!" said Dawes. 

"Five and ninepence!" He wrote a figure. "What's that?" 
he said. 

"I'm going to show you what it is," said the smith. 

The other went on adding the figures aloud. 

"Yer crawlin' little , yer daresn't face me proper!" 

Paul quickly snatched the heavy ruler. Dawes started. The 
young man ruled some lines in his ledger. The elder man was 

"But wait till I light on you, no matter where it is, I'll settle 
your hash for a bit, yer little swine ! " 

"All right," said Paul. 

At that the smith started heavily from the doorway. Just 
then a whistle piped shrilly. Paul went to the speaking-tube. 


"Yes!" he said, and he listened. "Er — yes!" He listened, 
then he laughed. "I'll come down directly. I've got a visitor 
just now." 

Dawes knew from his tone that he had been speaking to 
Clara. He stepped forward. 

"Yer little devil!" he said. "I'll visitor you, inside of two 
minutes! Think I'm goin' to have you whipperty-snappin' 

The other clerks in the warehouse looked up. Paul's office- 
boy appeared, holding some white article. 

"Fanny says you could have had it last night if you'd let her 
know," he said. 

"All right," answered Paul, looking at the stocking. "Get it 

Dawes stood frustrated, helpless with rage. Morel turned 

"Excuse me a minute," he said to Dawes, and he would have 
run downstairs. 

"By God, I'll stop your gallop!" shouted the smith, seizing 
him by the arm. He turned quickly. 

"Hey! Hey!" cried the office-boy, alarmed. 

Thomas Jordan started out of his little glass office, and came 
running down the room. 

"What's a-matter, what's a-matter?" he said, in his old man's 
sharp voice. 

"I'm just goin' ter settle this little , that's all," said 

Dawes desperately. 

"What do you mean?" snapped Thomas Jordan. 

"What I say," said Dawes, but he hung fire. 

Morel was leaning against the counter, ashamed, half- 

"What's it all about?" snapped Thomas Jordan. 

"Couldn't say," said Paul, shaking his head and shrugging his 

"Couldn't yer, couldn't yer!" cried Dawes, thrusting forward 
his handsome, furious face, and squaring his fist. 

"Have you finished?" cried the old man, strutting. "Get off 
about your business, and don't come here tipsy in the morning." 

Dawes turned his big frame slowly upon him. 

"Tipsy!" he said. "Who's tipsy? I'm no more tipsy than 
you are!" 

"We've heard that song before," snapped the old man. "Now 


you get off, and don't be long about it. Comin' here with your 

The smith looked down contemptuously on his employer. 
His hands, large, and grimy, and yet well shaped for his labour, 
worked restlessly. Paul remembered they were the hands of 
Clara's husband, and a flash of hate went through him. 

"Get out before you're turned out!" snapped Thomas Jordan. 

"Why, who'll turn me out?" said Dawes, beginning to sneer. 

Mr. Jordan started, marched up to the smith, waving him 
off, thrusting his stout little figure at the man, saying : 

"Get off my premises — get off!" 

He seized and twitched Dawes's arm. 

"Come off!" said the smith, and with a jerk of the elbow he 
sent the little manufacturer staggering backwards. 

Before anyone could help him, Thomas Jordan had collided 
with the flimsy spring-door. It had given way, and let him 
crash down the half-dozen steps into Fanny's room. There was 
a second of amazement; then men and girls were running. 
Dawes stood a moment looking bitterly on the scene, then he 
took his departure. 

Thomas Jordan was shaken and bruised, not otherwise hurt. 
He was, however, beside himself with rage. He dismissed 
Dawes from his employment, and summoned him for assault. 

At the trial Paul Morel had to give evidence. Asked how the 
trouble began, he said : 

"Dawes took occasion to insult Mrs. Dawes and me because 
I accompanied her to the theatre one evening; then I threw 
some beer at him, and he wanted his revenge." 

"Cherchez la femme!" smiled the magistrate. 

The case was dismissed after the magistrate had told Dawes 
he thought him a skunk. 

"You gave the case away," snapped Mr. Jordan to Paul. 

"I don't think I did," replied the latter. "Besides, you didn't 
really want a conviction, did you?" 

"What do you think 1 took the case up for?" 

"Well," said Paul, "I'm sorry if 1 said the wrong thing." 
Clara was also very angry. 

"Why need my name have been dragged in?" she said. 

"Better speak it openly than leave it to be whispered." 

"There was no need for anything at all," she declared. 

"We are none the poorer," he said indifferently. 

"You may not be," she said. 


"And you?" he asked. 

"I need never have been mentioned." 

"I'm sorry," he said; but he did not sound sorry. 

He told himself easily: "She v^ill come round." And she did. 

He told his mother about the fall of Mr. Jordan and the trial 
of Dawes. Mrs. Morel watched him closely. 

"And what do you think of it all?" she asked him. 

"I think he's a fool," he said. 

But he was very uncomfortable, nevertheless. 

"Have you ever considered where it will end?" his mother 

"No," he answered; "things work out of themselves/' 

"They do, in a way one doesn't like, as a rule," said his 

"And then one has to put up with them," he said. 

"You'll find you're not as good at 'putting up' as you 
imagine," she said. 

He went on working rapidly at his design. 

"Do you ever ask her opinion?" she said at length. 

"What of?" 

"Of you, and the whole thing." 

"I don't care what her opinion of me is. She's fearfully in 
love with me, but it's not very deep." 

"But quite as deep as your feeling for her." 

He looked up at his mother curiously. 

"Yes," he said. "You know, mother, 1 think there must be 
something the matter vdth me, that 1 can't love. When she's 
there, as a rule, I do love her. Sometimes, when I see her just 
as the woman, I love her, mother; but then, when she talks and 
criticises, 1 often don't listen to her." 

"Yet she's as much sense as Miriam." 

"Perhaps; and I love her better than Miriam. But why don't 
they hold me?" 

The last question was almost a lamentation. His mother 
turned away her face, sat looking across the room, very quiet, 
grave, with something of renunciation. 

"But you wouldn't want to marry Clara?" she said. 

"No; at first perhaps I would. But why — why don't 1 want 
to marry her or anybody ? I feel sometimes as if 1 wronged my 
women, mother." 

"How wronged them, my son?" 

"I don't know." 


He went on painting rather despairingly; he had touched the 
quick of the trouble. 

"And as for wanting to marry," said his mother, "there's 
plenty of time yet." 

"But no, mother. I even love Clara, and I did Miriam; but to 
give myself to them in marriage 1 couldn't. I couldn't belong 
to them. They seem to want me, and I can't ever give it them." 

"You haven't met the right woman." 

"And 1 never shall meet the right woman while you live," 
he said. 

She was very quiet. Now she began to feel again tired, as 
if she were done. 

"We'll see, my son," she answered. 

The feeling that things were going in a circle made him mad. 

Clara was, indeed, passionately in love with him, and he with 
her, as far as passion went. In the daytime he forgot her a 
good deal. She was working in the same building, but he was 
not aware of it. He was busy, and her existence was of no 
matter to him. But all the time she was in her Spiral room she 
had a sense that he was upstairs, a physical sense of his person 
in the same building. Every second she expected him to come 
through the door, and when he came it was a shock to her. 
But he was often short and offhand with her. He gave her his 
directions in an official manner, keeping her at bay. With what 
wits she had left she listened to him. She dared not misunder- 
stand or fail to remember, but it was a cruelty to her. She 
wanted to touch his chest. She knew exactly how his breast 
was shapen under the waistcoat, and she wanted to touch it. 
It maddened her to hear his mechanical voice giving orders 
about the work. She wanted to break through the sham of it, 
smash the trivial coating of business which covered him with 
hardness, get at the man again; but she was afraid, and before 
she could feel one touch of his warmth he was gone, and she 
ached again. 

He knew that she was dreary every evening she did not see 
him, so he gave her a good deal of his time. The days were 
often a misery to her, but the evenings and the nights were 
usually a bliss to them both. Then they were silent. For hours 
they sat together, or walked together in the dark, and talked 
only a few, almost meaningless words. But he had her hand 
in his, and her bosom left its warmth in his chest, making him 
feel whole. 


One evening they were walking down by the canal, and 
something was troubling him. She knew she had not got him. 
All the time he whistled softly and persistently to himself. She 
listened, feeling she could learn more from his whistling than 
from his speech. It was a sad dissatisfied tune — a tune that 
made her feel he would not stay with her. She walked on in 
silence. When they came to the swing bridge he sat down on 
the great pole, looking at the stars in the water. He was a long 
way from her. She had been thinking. 

"Will you always stay at Jordan's?" she asked. 

"No," he answered without reflecting. "No; I s'll leave 
Nottingham and go abroad — soon." 

"Go abroad! What for?" 

"I dunno! 1 feel restless." 

"But what shall you do?" 

"I shall have to get some steady designing work, and some 
sort of sale for my pictures first," he said. "1 am gradually 
making my way. I know I am." 

"And when do you think you'll go?" 

"I don't know. 1 shall hardly go for long, while there's my 

"You couldn't leave her?" 

"Not for long." 

She looked at the stars in the black water. They lay very 
white and staring. It was an agony to know he would leave 
her, but it was almost an agony to have him near her. 

"And if you made a nice lot of money, what would you do?" 
she asked. 

"Go somewhere in a pretty house near London with my 
1 see. 

There was a long pause. 

"I could still come and see you," he said. "I don't know. 
Don't ask me what I should do; I don't know." 
There was a silence. The stars shuddered and broke upon the 
water. There came a breath of wind. He went suddenly to 
her, and put his hand on her shoulder. 

"Don't ask me anything about the future," he said miserably. 
"I don't know anything. Be with me now, will you, no matter 
what it is?" 

And she took him in her arms. After all, she was a married 
woman, and she had no right even to what he gave her. He 


needed her badly. She had him in her arms, and he was 
miserable. With her warmth she folded him over, consoled 
him, loved him. She would let the moment stand for itself. 

After a moment he lifted his head as if he wanted to speak. 

"Clara," he said, struggling. 

She caught him passionately to her, pressed his head down 
on her breast with her hand. She could not bear the suffering 
in his voice. She was afraid in her soul. He might have any- 
thing of her — anything; but she did not want to know. She 
felt she could not bear it. She wanted him to be soothed upon 
her — soothed. She stood clasping him and caressing him, and 
he was something unknown to her — something almost un- 
canny. She wanted to soothe him into forgetfulness. 

And soon the struggle went down in his soul, and he forgot. 
But then Clara was not there for him, only a woman, warm, 
something he loved and almost worshipped, there in the dark. 
But it was not Clara, and she submitted to him. The naked 
hunger and inevitability of his loving her, something strong and 
blind and ruthless in its primitiveness, made the hour almost 
terrible to her. She knew how stark and alone he was, and she 
felt it was great that he came to her; and she took him simply 
because his need was bigger either than her or him, and her 
soul was still within her. She did this for him in his need, even 
if he left her, for she loved him. 

All the while the peewits were screaming in the field. When 
he came to, he wondered what was near his eyes, curving and 
strong with life in the dark, and what voice it was speaking. 
Then he reahsed it was the grass, and the peewit was calling. 
The warmth was Clara's breathing heaving. He lifted his head, 
and looked into her eyes. They were dark and shining and 
strange, life wild at the source staring into his life, stranger to 
him, yet meeting him; and he put his face down on her throat, 
afraid. What was she? A strong, strange, wild life, that 
breathed with his in the darkness through this hour. It was all 
so much bigger than themselves that he was hushed. They had 
met, and included in their meeting the thrust of the manifold 
grass stems, the cry of the peewit, the wheel of the stars. 

When they stood up they saw other lovers stealing down the 
opposite hedge. It seemed natural they were there; the night 
contained them. 

And after such an evening they both were very still, having 
known the immensity of passion. They felt small, half-afraid. 


childish and wondering, like Adam and Eve when they lost 
their innocence and realised the magnificence of the power 
which drove them out of Paradise and across the great night 
and the great day of humanity. It was for each of them an 
initiation and a satisfaction. To know their own nothingness, 
to know the tremendous living flood which carried them 
always, gave them rest within themselves. If so great a mag- 
nificent power could overwhelm them, identify them altogether 
with itself, so that they knew they were only grains in the 
tremendous heave that lifted every grass blade its little height, 
and every tree, and living thing, then why fret about them- 
selves? They could let themselves be carried by life, and they 
felt a sort of peace each in the other. There was a verification 
which they had had together. Nothing could nullify it, nothing 
could take it away; it was almost their belief in life. 

But Clara was not satisfied. Something great was there, she 
knew; something great enveloped her. But it did not keep her. 
In the morning it was not the same. They had known, but she 
could not keep the moment. She wanted it again; she wanted 
something permanent. She had not realised fully. She thought 
it was he whom she wanted. He was not safe to her. This that 
had been between them might never be again; he might leave 
her. She had not got him; she was not satisfied. She had been 
there, but she had not gripped the — the something — she knew 
not what — which she was mad to have. 

In the morning he had considerable peace, and was happy in 
himself. It seemed almost as if he had known the baptism of 
fire in passion, and it left him at rest. But it was not Clara. It 
was something that happened because of her, but it was not 
her. They were scarcely any nearer each other. It was as if 
they had been blind agents of a great force. 

When she saw him that day at the factory her heart melted 
like a drop of fire. It was his body, his brows. The drop of 
fire grew more intense in her breast; she must hold him. But 
he, very quiet, very subdued this morning, went on giving his 
instruction. She followed him into the dark, ugly basement, 
and lifted her arms to him. He kissed her, and the intensity of 
passion began to burn him again. Somebody was at the door. 
He ran upstairs; she returned to her room, moving as if in a 

After that the fire slowly went down. He felt more and more 
that his experience had been impersonal, and not Clara. He 


loved her. There was a big tenderness, as after a strong emotion 
they had known together; but it was not she who could keep 
his soul steady. He had wanted her to be something she could 
not be. 

And she was mad with desire of him. She could not see him 
without touching him. In the factory, as he talked to her about 
Spiral hose, she ran her hand secretly along his side. She 
followed him out into the basement for a quick kiss; her eyes, 
always mute and yearning, full of unrestrained passion, she 
kept fixed on his. He was afraid of her, lest she should too 
flagrantly give herself away before the other girls. She invari- 
ably waited for him at dinner-time for him to embrace her 
before she went. He felt as if she were helpless, almost a 
burden to him, and it irritated him. 

"But what do you always want to be kissing and embracing 
for?" he said. "Surely there's a time for everything." 

She looked up at him, and the hate came into her eyes. 

"Do I always want to be kissing you?" she said. 

"Always, even if 1 come to ask you about the work. I 
don't want anything to do with love when I'm at work. Work's 
work " 

"And what is love?" she asked. "Has it to have special 

"Yes; out of work hours." 

"And you'll regulate it according to Mr. Jordan's closing 

"Yes; and according to the freedom from business of any 

"It is only to exist in spare time?" 

"That's all, and not always then — not the kissing sort of 

"And that's all you think of it?" 

"It's quite enough." 

"I'm glad you think so." 

And she was cold to him for some time — she hated him; and 
while she was cold and contemptuous, he was uneasy till she 
had forgiven him again. But when they started afresh they 
were not any nearer. He kept her because he never satisfied her. 

In the spring they went together to the seaside. They had 
rooms at a little cottage near Theddlethorpe, and lived as man 
and wife. Mrs. Radford sometimes went with them. 

It was known in Nottingham that Paul Morel and Mrs. Dawes 


were going together, but as nothing was very obvious, and 
Clara always a solitary person, and he seemed so simple and 
innocent, it did not make much difference. 

He loved the Lincolnshire coast, and she loved the sea. In 
the early morning they often went out together to bathe. The 
grey of the dawn, the far, desolate reaches of the fenland 
smitten with winter, the sea-meadows rank with herbage, were 
stark enough to rejoice his soul. As they stepped on to the high- 
road from their plank bridge, and looked round at the endless 
monotony of levels, the land a little darker than the sky, the 
sea sounding small beyond the sandhills, his heart filled strong 
with the sweeping relentlessness of life. She loved him then. 
He was solitary and strong, and his eyes had a beautiful light. 

They shuddered with cold; then he raced her down the road 
to the green turf bridge. She could run well. Her colour soon 
came, her throat was bare, her eyes shone. He loved her for 
being so luxuriously heavy, and yet so quick. Himself was 
light; she went with a beautiful rush. They grew warm, and 
walked hand in hand. 

A flush came into the sky, the wan moon, half-way down the 
west, sank into insignificance. On the shadowy land things 
began to take life, plants with great leaves became distinct. 
They came through a pass in the big, cold sandhills on to the 
beach. The long waste of foreshore lay moaning under the 
dawn and the sea; the ocean was a flat dark strip wdth a white 
edge. Over the gloomy sea the sky grew red. Quickly the fire 
spread among the clouds and scattered them. Crimson burned 
to orange, orange to dull gold, and in a golden glitter the sun 
came up, dribbling fierily over the waves in little splashes, as if 
someone had gone along and the light had spilled from her 
pail as she walked. 

The breakers ran down the shore in long, hoarse strokes. 
Tiny seagulls, like specks of spray, wheeled above the line of 
surf. Their crying seemed larger than they. Far away the 
coast reached out, and melted into the morning, the tussocky 
sandhills seemed to sink to a level with the beach. Mable- 
thorpe was tiny on their right. They had alone the space of all 
this level shore, the sea, and the upcoming sun, the faint noise 
of the waters, the sharp crying of the gulls. 

They had a warm hollow in the sandhills where the wind 
did not come. He stood looking out to sea. 

"It's very fine," he said. 


"Now don't get sentimental," she said. 

It irritated her to see him standing gazing at the sea, like a 
solitary and poetic person. He laughed. She quickly undressed. 

"There are some fine waves this morning," she said triumph- 

She was a better swimmer than he; he stood idly watching 

"Aren't you coming?" she said. 

"In a minute," he answered. 

She was white and velvet skinned, with heavy shoulders. A 
little wind, coming from the sea, blew across her body and 
ruffled her hair. 

The morning was of a lovely limpid gold colour. Veils of 
shadow seemed to be drifting away on the north and the south. 
Clara stood shrinking slightly from the touch of the wind, 
twisting her hair. The sea-grass rose behind the white stripped 
woman. She glanced at the sea, then looked at him. He was 
watching her with dark eyes which she loved and could not 
understand. She hugged her breasts between her arms, cringing, 
laughing : 

"Oo, it will be so cold!" she said. 

He bent forward and kissed her, held her suddenly close, and 
kissed her again. She stood waiting. He looked into her eyes, 
then away at the pale sands. 

"Go, then!" he said quietly. 

She flung her arms round his neck, drew him against her, 
kissed him passionately, and went, saying : 

"But you'll come in?" 

"In a minute." 

She went plodding heavily over the sand that was soft as 
velvet. He, on the sandhills, watched the great pale coast 
envelop her. She grew smaller, lost proportion, seemed only 
like a large white bird toiling forward. 

"Not much more than a big white pebble on the beach, not 
much more than a clot of foam being blown and rolled over 
the sand," he said to himself. 

She seemed to move very slowly across the vast sounding 
shore. As he watched, he lost her. She was dazzled out of 
sight by the sunshine. Again he saw her, the merest white 
speck moving against the white, muttering sea-edge. 

"Look how little she is!" he said to himself. "She's lost like 
a grain of sand in the beach — just a concentrated speck blown 


along, a tiny white foam-bubble, almost nothing among the 
morning. Why does she absorb me?" 

The morning was altogether uninterrupted : she was gone in 
the water. Far and wide the beach, the sandhills with their 
blue marrain, the shining water, glowed together in immense, 
unbroken solitude. 

"What is she, after all?" he said to himself. "Here's the sea- 
coast morning, big and permanent and beautiful; there is she, 
fretting, always unsatisfied, and temporary as a bubble of foam. 
What does she mean to me, after all ? She represents something, 
like a bubble of foam represents the sea. But what is shel It's 
not her I care for." 

Then, startled by his own unconscious thoughts, that seemed 
to speak so distinctly that all the morning could hear, he un- 
dressed and ran quickly down the sands. She was watching 
for him. Her arm flashed up to him, she heaved on a wave, 
subsided, her shoulders in a pool of liquid silver. He jumped 
through the breakers, and in a moment her hand was on his 

He was a poor swimmer, and could not stay long in the 
water. She played round him in triumph, sporting with her 
superiority, which he begrudged her. The sunshine stood deep 
and fine on the water. They laughed in the sea for a minute 
or two, then raced each other back to the sandhills. 

When they were drying themselves, panting heavily, he 
watched her laughing, breathless face, her bright shoulders, her 
breasts that swayed and made him frightened as she rubbed 
them, and he thought again : 

"But she is magnificent, and even bigger than the morning 
and the sea. Is she ? Is she " 

She, seeing his dark eyes fixed on her, broke off from her 
drying with a laugh. 

"What are you looking at?" she said. 

"You," he answered, laughing. 

Her eyes met his, and in a moment he was kissing her white 
"goose-fleshed" shoulder, and thinking: 

"What is she? What is she?" 

She loved him in the morning. There was something de- 
tached, hard, and elemental about his kisses then, as if he 
were only conscious of his own will, not in the least of her and 
her wanting him. 

Later in the day he went out sketching. 


"You," he said to her, "go with your mother to Sutton. I am 
so dull." 

She stood and looked at him. He knew she wanted to come 
with him, but he preferred to be alone. She made him feel 
imprisoned when she was there, as if he could not get a free 
deep breath, as if there were something on top of him. She felt 
his desire to be free of her. 

In the evening he came back to her. They walked down the 
shore in the darkness, then sat for awhile in the shelter of the 

"It seems," she said, as they stared over the darkness of the 
sea, where no light was to be seen — "it seemed as if you only 
loved me at night — as if you didn't love me in the daytime." 

He ran the cold sand through his fingers, feeling guilty under 
the accusation. 

"The night is free to you," he replied. "In the daytime 1 
want to be by myself." 

"But why?" she said. "Why, even now, when we are on 
this short holiday?" 

"I don't know. Love-making stifles me in the daytime." 

"But it needn't be always love-making," she said. 

"It always is," he answered, "when you and 1 are together." 

She sat feeling very bitter. 

"Do you ever want to marry me?" he asked curiously. 

"Do you me?" she replied. 

"Yes, yes; 1 should like us to have children," he answered 

She sat with her head bent, fingering the sand. 

"But you don't really want a divorce from Baxter, do you?" 
he said. 

It was some minute before she replied. 

"No," she said, very deliberately; "1 don't think 1 do." 


"I don't know." 

"Do you feel as if you belonged to him?" 

"No; I don't think so." 

"What, then?" 

"1 think he belongs to me," she replied. 

He was silent for some minutes, listening to the wind blow- 
ing over the hoarse, dark sea. 

"And you never really intended to belong to me?" he said. 

"Yes, I do belong to you," she answered. 


"No," he said; "because you don't want to be divorced." 

It was a knot they could not untie, so they left it, took what 
they could get, and what they could not attain they ignored. 

"I consider you treated Baxter rottenly," he said another 

He half-expected Clara to answer him, as his mother would : 
"You consider your own affairs, and don't know so much about 
other people's." But she took him seriously, almost to his own 

"Why?" she said. 

"I suppose you thought he was a lily of the valley, and so 
you put him in an appropriate pot, and tended him according. 
You made up your mind he was a lily of the valley and it was 
no good his being a cow-parsnip. You wouldn't have it." 

"1 certainly never imagined him a lily of the valley." 

"You imagined him something he wasn't. That's just what 
a woman is. She thinks she knows what's good for a man, and 
she's going to see he gets it; and no matter if he's starving, he 
may sit and whistle for what he needs, while she's got him, 
and is giving him what's good for him." 

"And what are you doing?" she asked. 

"I'm thinking what tune 1 shall whistle," he laughed. 

And instead of boxing his ears, she considered him in earnest. 

"You think 1 want to give you what's good for you?" she 

"I hope so; but love should give a sense of freedom, not of 
prison. Miriam made me feel tied up like a donkey to a stake. 
I must feed on her patch, and nowhere else. It's sickening!" 

"And would you let a woman do as she likes?" 

"Yes; I'll see that she likes to love me. If she doesn't — well, 
I don't hold her." 

"If you were as wonderful as you say ," replied Clara. 

"I should be the marvel I am," he laughed. 

There was a silence in which they hated each other, though 
they laughed. 

"Love's a dog in a manger," he said. 

"And which of us is the dog?" she asked. 

"Oh well, you, of course." 

So there went on a battle between them. She knew she nevei 
fully had him. Some part, big and vital in him, she had no hold 
over; nor did she ever try to get it, or even to realise what it 
was. And he knew in some way that she held herself still as 


Mrs. Dawes. She did not love Dawes, never had loved him; 
but she believed he loved her, at least depended on her. She 
felt a certain surety about him that she never felt with Paul 
Morel. Her passion for the young man had filled her soul, given 
her a certain satisfaction, eased her of her self-mistrust, her 
doubt. Whatever else she was, she was inwardly assured. It 
was almost as if she had gained herself, and stood now distinct 
and complete. She had received her confirmation; but she never 
believed that her life belonged to Paul Morel, nor his to her. 
They would separate in the end, and the rest of her life would 
be an ache after him. But at any rate, she knew now, she was 
sure of herself. And the same could almost be said of him. 
Together they had received the baptism of life, each through 
the other; but now their missions were separate. Where he 
wanted to go she could not come with him. They would have 
to part sooner or later. Even if they married, and were faithful 
to each other, still he would have to leave her, go on alone, 
and she would only have to attend to him when he came home. 
But it was not possible. Each wanted a mate to go side by side 

Clara had gone to live with her mother upon Mapperley 
Plains. One evening, as Paul and she were walking along Wood- 
borough Road, they met Dawes. Morel knew something about 
the bearing of the man approaching, but he was absorbed in his 
thinking at the moment, so that only his artist's eye watched 
the form of the stranger. Then he suddenly turned to Clara with 
a laugh, and put his hand on her shoulder, saying, laughing: 

"But we walk side by side, and yet I'm in London arguing 
with an imaginary Orpen; and where are you?" 

At that instant Dawes passed, almost touching Morel. The 
young man glanced, saw the dark brown eyes burning, full of 
hate and yet tired. 

"Who was that?" he asked of Clara. 

"It was Baxter," she replied. 

Paul took his hand from her shoulder and glanced round: 
then he saw again distinctly the man's form as it approached 
him. Dawes still walked erect, with his fine shoulders flung 
back, and his face lifted; but there was a furtive look in his 
eyes that gave one the impression he was trying to get un- 
noticed past every person he met, glancing suspiciously to see 
what they thought of him. And his hands seemed to be want- 
ing to hide. He wore old clothes, the trousers were torn at the 


knee, and the handkerchief tied round his throat was dirty; 
but his cap was still defiantly over one eye. As she saw him, 
Clara felt guilty. There was a tiredness and despair on his face 
that made her hate him, because it hurt her. 

"He looks shady," said Paul. 

But the note of pity in his voice reproached her, and made 
her feel hard. 

"His true commonness comes out," she answered. 

"Do you hate him?" he asked. 

"You talk," she said, "about the cruelty of women; I wish 
you knew the cruelty of men in their brute force. They simply 
don't know that the woman exists." 

"Don't /?" he said. 

"No," she answered. 

"Don't 1 know you exist?" 

"About me you know nothing," she said bitterly — "about 

"No more than Baxter knew?" he asked. 

"Perhaps not as much." 

He felt puzzled, and helpless, and angry. There she walked 
unknown to him, though they had been through such experi- 
ence together. 

"But you know me pretty well," he said. 

She did not answer. 

"Did you know Baxter as well as you know me?" he asked. 

"He wouldn't let me," she said. 

"And 1 have let you know me?" 

"It's what men won't let you do. They won't let you get 
really near to them," she said. 

"And haven't 1 let you?" 

"Yes," she answered slowly; "but you've never come near to 
me. You can't come out of yourself, you can't. Baxter could 
do that better than you." 

He walked on pondering. He was angry with her for prefer- 
ing Baxter to him. 

"You begin to value Baxter now you've not got him," he said. 

"No; 1 can only see where he was different from you." 

But he felt she had a grudge against him. 

One evening, as they were coming home over the fields, she 
startled him by asking : 

"Do you think it's worth it — the — the sex part?" 

"The act of loving, itself?" 


"Yes; is it worth anything to you?" 

"But how can you separate it?" he said. "It's the culmina- 
tion of everything. All our intimacy culminates then." 

"Not for me," she said. 

He was silent. A flash of hate for her came up. After all, 
she was dissatisfied with him, even there, where he thought 
they fulfilled each other. But he believed her too implicitly. 

"I feel," she continued slowly, "as if I hadn't got you, as if 
all of you weren't there, and as if it weren't me you were 
taking " 

"Who, then?" 

"Something just for yourself. It has been fine, so that I 
daren't think of it. But is it me you want, or is it It?" 

He again felt guilty. Did he leave Clara out of count, and 
take simply women ? But he thought that was splitting a hair. 

"When I had Baxter, actually had him, then I did feel as if 
I had all of him," she said. 

"And it was better?" he asked. 

"Yes, yes; it was more whole. I don't say you haven't given 
me more than he ever gave me." 

"Or could give you." 

"Yes, perhaps; but you've never given me yourself." 

He knitted his brows angrily. 

"If I start to make love to you," he said, "1 just go like a 
leaf down the wind." 

"And leave me out of count," she said. 

"And then is it nothing to you?" he asked, almost rigid with 

"It's something; and sometimes you have carried me away — 
right away — I know — and — I reverence you for it — but " 

"Don't 'but' me," he said, kissing her quickly, as a fire ran 
through him. 

She submitted, and was silent. 

It was true as he said. As a rule, when he started love-making, 
the emotion was strong enough to carry with it everything — 
reason, soul, blood — in a great sweep, like the Trent carries 
bodily its back-swirls and intertwinings, noiselessly. Gradually 
the little criticisms, the little sensations, were lost, thought also 
went, everything borne along in one flood. He became, not a 
man with a mind, but a great instinct. His hands were like 
creatures, living; his limbs, his body, were all life and conscious- 
ness, subject to no will of his, but living in themselves. Just as 


he was, so it seemed the vigorous, wintry stars were strong also 
with life. He and they struck with the same pulse of fire, and 
the same joy of strength which held the bracken-frond stiff 
near his eyes held his own body firm. It was as if he, and the 
stars, and the dark herbage, and Clara were licked up in an 
immense tongue of flame, which tore onwards and upwards. 
Everything rushed along in living beside him; everything was 
still, perfect in itself, along with him. This wonderful stillness 
in each thing in itself, while it was being borne along in a very 
ecstasy of living, seemed the highest point of bliss. 

And Clara knew this held him to her, so she trusted alto- 
gether to the passion. It, however, failed her very often. They 
did not often reach again the height of that once when the 
peewits had called. Gradually, some mechanical effort spoilt 
their loving, or, when they had splendid moments, they had 
them separately, and not so satisfactorily. So often he seemed 
merely to be running on alone; often they realised it had been 
a failure, not what they had wanted. He left her, knowing 
that evening had only made a little split between them. Their 
loving grew more mechanical, without the marvellous glamour. 
Gradually they began to introduce novelties, to get back some 
of the feeling of satisfaction. They would be very near, almost 
dangerously near to the river, so that the black water ran not 
far from his face, and it gave a little thrill; or they loved some- 
times in a little hollow below the fence of the path where 
people were passing occasionally, on the edge of the town, 
and they heard footsteps coming, almost felt the vibration of 
the tread, and they heard what the passers-by said — strange 
little things that were never intended to be heard. And after- 
wards each of them was rather ashamed, and these things 
caused a distance between the two of them. He began to despise 
her a little, as if she had merited it! 

One night he left her to go to Daybrook Station over the 
fields. It was very dark, with an attempt at snow, although the 
spring was so far advanced. Morel had not much time; he 
plunged forward. The town ceases almost abruptly on the edge 
of a steep hollow; there the houses with their yellow lights 
stand up against the darkness. He went over the stile, and 
dropped quickly into the hollow of the fields. Under the 
orchard one warm window shone in Swineshead Farm. Paul 
glanced round. Behind, the houses stood on the brim of the 
dip, black against the sky, like wild beasts glaring curiously 


with yellow eyes down into the darkness. It was the town 
that seemed savage and uncouth, glaring on the clouds at the 
back of him. Some creature stirred under the willows of the 
farm pond. It was too dark to distinguish anything. 

He was close up to the next stile before he saw a dark shape 
leaning against it. The man moved aside. 

"Good-evening!" he said. 

"Good-evening!" Morel answered, not noticing. 

"Paul Morel?" said the man. 

Then he knew it was Dawes. The man stopped his way. 

"I've got yer, have I?" he said awkwardly. 

"I shall miss my train," said Paul. 

He could see nothing of Dawes's face. The man's teeth 
seemed to chatter as he talked. 

"You're going to get it from me now," said Dawes. 

Morel attempted to move forward; the other man stepped in 
front of him. 

"Are yer goin' to take that top-coat off," he said, "or are 
you goin' to lie down to it?" 

Paul was afraid the man was mad. 

"But," he said, "I don't know how to fight." 

"All right, then," answered Dawes, and before the younger 
man knew where he was, he was staggering backwards from a 
blow across the face. 

The whole night went black. He tore off his overcoat and 
coat, dodging a blow, and flung the garments over Dawes. The 
latter swore savagely. Morel, in his shirt-sleeves, was now 
alert and furious. He felt his whole body unsheath itself like 
a claw. He could not fight, so he would use his wits. The other 
man became more distinct to him; he could see particularly 
the shirt-breast. Dawes stumbled over Paul's coats, then came 
rushing forward. The young man's mouth was bleeding. It 
was the other man's mouth he was dying to get at, and the 
desire was anguish in its strength. He stepped quickly through 
the stile, and as Dawes was coming through after him, like a 
flash he got a blow in over the other's mouth. He shivered with 
pleasure. Dawes advanced slowly, spitting. Paul was afraid; 
he moved round to get to the stile again. Suddenly, from out 
of nowhere, came a great blow against his ear, that sent him 
falling helpless backwards. He heard Dawes's heavy panting, 
like a wild beast's, then came a kick on the knee, giving him 
such agony that he got up and, quite blind, leapt clean under 


his enemy's guard. He felt blows and kicks, but they did not 
hurt. He hung on to the bigger man like a wild cat, till at last 
Dawes fell with a crash, losing his presence of mind. Paul went 
down with him. Pure instinct brought his hands to the man's 
neck, and before Dawes, in frenzy and agony, could wrench 
him free, he had got his fists twisted in the scarf and his 
knuckles dug in the throat of the other man. He was a pure 
instinct, without reason or feeling. His body, hard and wonder- 
ful in itself, cleaved against the struggling body of the other 
man; not a muscle in him relaxed. He was quite unconscious, 
only his body had taken upon itself to kill this other man. For 
himself, he had neither feeling nor reason. He lay pressed hard 
against his adversary, his body adjusting itself to its one pure 
purpose of choking the other man, resisting exactly at the right 
moment, with exactly the right amount of strength, the 
struggles of the other, silent, intent, unchanging, gradually 
pressing its knuckles deeper, feeling the struggles of the other 
body become wilder and more frenzied. Tighter and tighter 
grew his body, like a screw that is gradually increasing in 
pressure, till something breaks. 

Then suddenly he relaxed, full of wonder and misgiving. 
Dawes had been yielding. Morel felt his body flame with pain, 
as he realised what he was doing; he was all bewildered. 
Dawes's struggles suddenly renewed themselves in a furious 
spasm. Paul's hands were wrenched, torn out of the scarf in 
which they were knotted, and he was flung away, helpless. He 
heard the horrid sound of the other's gasping, but he lay 
stunned; then, still dazed, he felt the blows of the other's feet, 
and lost consciousness. 

Dawes, grunting with pain like a beast, was kicking the 
prostrate body of his rival. Suddenly the whistle of the train 
shrieked two fields away. He turned round and glared sus- 
piciously. What was coming? He saw the lights of the train 
draw across his vision. It seemed to him people were approach- 
ing. He made off across the field into Nottingham, and dimly 
in his consciousness as he went, he felt on his foot the place 
where his boot had knocked against one of the lad's bones. The 
knock seemed to re-echo inside him; he hurried to get away 
from it. 

Morel gradually came to himself. He knew where he was 
and what had happened, but he did not want to move. He lay 
still, with tiny bits of snow tickling his face. It was pleasant 


to lie quite, quite still. The time passed. It was the bits of 
snow that kept rousing him when he did not want to be roused. 
A last his will clicked into action. 

"I mustn't lie here," he said; "it's silly." 

But still he did not move. 

"I said 1 was going to get up," he repeated. "Why don't 1?" 

And still it was some time before he had sufficiently pulled 
himself together to stir; then gradually he got up. Pain made 
him sick and dazed, but his brain was clear. Reeling, he groped 
for his coats and got them on, buttoning his overcoat up to his 
ears. It was some time before he found his cap. He did not 
know whether his face was still bleeding. Walking blindly, 
every step making him sick with pain, he went back to the 
pond and washed his face and hands. The icy water hurt, but 
helped to bring him back to himself. He crawled back up the 
hill to the tram. He wanted to get to his mother — he must get 
to his mother — that was his blind intention. He covered his 
face as much as he could, and struggled sickly along. Con- 
tinually the ground seemed to fall away from him as he walked, 
and he felt himself dropping with a sickening feeling into 
space; so, like a nightmare, he got through with the journey 

Everybody was in bed. He looked at himself. His face was 
discoloured and smeared with blood, almost like a dead man's 
face. He washed it, and went to bed. The night went by in 
delirium. In the morning he found his mother looking at him. 
Her blue eyes — they were all he wanted to see. She was there; 
he was in her hands. 

"It's not much, mother," he said. "It was Baxter Dawes." 

"Tell me where it hurts you," she said quietly. 

"I don't know — my shoulder. Say it was a bicycle accident, 

He could not move his arm. Presently Minnie, the little 
servant, came upstairs with some tea. 

"Your mother's nearly frightened me out of my wits — 
fainted away," she said. 

He felt he could not bear it. His mother nursed him; he told 
her about it. 

"And now I should have done with them all," she said 

"I will, mother." 

She covered him up. 


"And don't think about it," she said — "only try to go to 
sleep. The doctor won't be here till eleven." 

He had a dislocated shoulder, and the second day acute bron- 
chitis set in. His mother was pale as death now, and very thin. 
She would sit and look at him, then away into space. There 
was something between them that neither dared mention. Clara 
came to see him. Afterwards he said to his mother: 

"She makes me tired, mother." 

"Yes; I wish she wouldn't come," Mrs. Morel replied. 

Another day Miriam came, but she seemed almost like a 
stranger to him. 

"You know, 1 don't care about them, mother," he said. 

"I'm afraid you don't, my son," she replied sadly. 

It was given out everywhere that it was a bicycle accident. 
Soon he was able to go to work again, but now there was a 
constant sickness and gnawdng at his heart. He went to Clara, 
but there seemed, as it were, nobody there. He could not work. 
He and his mother seemed almost to avoid each other. There 
was some secret between them which they could not bear. He 
was not aware of it. He only knew that his life seemed un- 
balanced, as if it were going to smash into pieces. 

Clara did not know what was the matter with him. She 
realised that he seemed unaware of her. Even when he came 
to her he seemed unaware of her; always he was somewhere 
else. She felt she was clutching for him, and he was somewhere 
else. It tortured her, and so she tortured him. For a month at 
a time she kept him at arm's length. He almost hated her, and 
was driven to her in spite of himself. He went mostly into the 
company of men, was always at the George or the White 
Horse. His mother was ill, distant, quiet, shadowy. He was 
terrified of something; he dared not look at her. Her eyes 
seemed to grow darker, her face more waxen; still she dragged 
about at her work. 

At Whitsuntide he said he would go to Blackpool for four 
days with his friend Newton. The latter was a big, jolly fellow, 
with a touch of the bounder about him. Paul said his mother 
must go to Sheffield to stay a week with Annie, who lived there. 
Perhaps the change would do her good. Mrs. Morel was attend- 
ing a woman's doctor in Nottingham. He said her heart and 
her digestion were wrong. She consented to go to Sheffield, 
though she did not want to; but now she would do everything 
her son wished of her. Paul said he would come for her on the 


fifth day, and stay also in Sheffield till the holiday was up. It 
was agreed. 

The two young men set off gaily for Blackpool. Mrs. Morel 
was quite lively as Paul kissed her and left her. Once at the 
station, he forgot everything. Four days were clear— not an 
anxiety, not a thought. The two young men simply enjoyed 
themselves. Paul was like another man. None of himself 
remained — no Clara, no Miriam, no mother that fretted him. 
He wrote to them all, and long letters to his mother; but they 
were jolly letters that made her laugh. He was having a good 
time, as young fellows will in a place like Blackpool. And 
underneath it all was a shadow for her. 

Paul was very gay, excited at the thought of staying with 
his mother in Sheffield. Newton was to spend the day with 
them. Their train was late. Joking, laughing, with their pipes 
between their teeth, the young men swung their bags on to 
the tram-car. Paul had bought his mother a little collar of 
real lace that he wanted to see her wear, so that he could 
tease her about it. 

Annie lived in a nice house, and had a little maid. Paul ran 
gaily up the steps. He expected his mother laughing in the 
hall, but it was Annie who opened to him. She seemed distant 
to him. He stood a second in dismay. Annie let him kiss her 

"Is my mother ill?" he said. 

"Yes; she's not very well. Don't upset her." 

"Is she in bed?" 


And then the queer feeling went over him, as if all the sun- 
shine had gone out of him, and it was all shadow. He dropped 
the bag and ran upstairs. Hesitating, he opened the door. His 
mother sat up in bed, wearing a dressing-gown of old-rose 
colour. She looked at him almost as if she were ashamed of 
herself, pleading to him, humble. He saw the ashy look about 

"Mother!" he said. 

"I thought you were never coming," she answered gaily. 

But he only fell on his knees at the bedside, and buried his 
face in the bedclothes, crying in agony, and saying : 

"Mother — mother — mother ! " 

She stroked his hair slowly with her thin hand. 

"Don't cry," she said. "Don't cry — ^it's nothing." 


But he felt as if his blood was melting into tears, and he cried 
in terror and pain. 

"Don't — don't cry," his mother faltered. 

Slowly she stroked his hair. Shocked out of himself, he cried, 
and the tears hurt in every fibre of his body. Suddenly he 
stopped, but he dared not lift his face out of the bedclothes. 

"You are late. Where have you been?" his mother asked. 

"The train was late," he replied, muffled in the sheet. 

"Yes; that miserable Central! Is Newton come?" 


"I'm sure you must be hungry, and they've kept dinner 

With a v^ench he looked up at her. 

"What is it, mother?" he asked brutally. 

She averted her eyes as she answered: 

"Only a bit of a tumour, my boy. You needn't trouble. It's 
been there — ^the lump has — a long time." 

Up came the tears again. His mind was clear and hard, but 
his body was crying. 

"Where?" he said. 

She put her hand on her side. 

"Here. But you know they can sweal a tumour away." 

He stood feeling dazed and helpless, like a child. He thought 
perhaps it was as she said. Yes; he reassured himself it was so. 
But all the while his blood and his body knew definitely what 
it was. He sat down on the bed, and took her hand. She had 
never had but the one ring — her wedding-ring. 

"When were you poorly?" he asked. 

"It was yesterday it began," she answered submissively. 


"Yes; but not more than I've often had at home. I believe 
Dr. Ansell is an alarmist." 

"You ought not to have travelled alone," he said, to himself 
more than to her. 

"As if that had anything to do with it!" she answered 

They were silent for a while. 

"Now go and have your dinner," she said. "You must be 

"Have you had yours?" 

"Yes; a beautiful sole I had. Annie is good to me." 

They talked a little while, then he went downstairs. He was 


very white and strained. Newton sat in miserable sympathy. 

After dinner he went into the scullery to help Annie to wash 
up. The little maid had gone on an errand. 

"Is it really a tumour?" he asked 

Annie began to cry again. 

"The pain she had yesterday — I never saw anybody suffer 
like it!" she cried. "Leonard ran like a madman for Dr. Ansell, 
and when she'd got to bed she said to me : 'Annie, look at this 
lump on my side. 1 wonder what it is?' And there 1 looked, 
and I thought I should have dropped. Paul, as true as I'm here, 
it's a lump as big as my double fist. 1 said: 'Good gracious, 
mother, whenever did that come?' 'Why, child,' she said, 'it's 
been there a long time.' 1 thought 1 should have died, our Paul, 
1 did. She's been having these pains for months at home, and 
nobody looking after her." 

The tears came to his eyes, then dried suddenly. 

"But she's been attending the doctor in Nottingham — and she 
never told me," he said. 

"If I'd have been at home," said Annie, "1 should have seen 
for myself." 

He felt like a man walking in unrealities. In the afternoon 
he went to see the doctor. The latter was a shrewd, lovable 

"But what is it?" he said. 

The doctor looked at the young man, then knitted his 

"It may be a large tumour which has formed in the mem- 
brane," he said slowly, "and which we may be able to make 
go away." 

"Can't you operate?" asked Paul. 

"Not there," replied the doctor. 

"Are you sure?" 


Paul meditated a while. 

"Are you sure it's a tumour?" he asked. "Why did Dr. 
Jameson in Nottingham never find out anything about it ? She's 
been going to him for weeks, and he's treated her for heart 
and indigestion." 

"Mrs. Morel never told Dr. Jameson about the lump," said 
the doctor. 

"And do you know it's a tumour?" 

"No, I am not sure." 


"What else might it be? You asked my sister if there was 
cancer in the family. Might it be cancer?" 

"I don't know." 

"And what shall you do?" 

"I should like an examination, with Dr. Jameson." 

"Then have one." 

"You must arrange about that. His fee wouldn't be less than 
ten guineas to come here from Nottingham." 

"When would you like him to come?" 

"I will call in this evening, and we will talk it over." 

Paul went away, biting his lip. 

His mother could come downstairs for tea, the doctor said. 
Her son went upstairs to help her. She wore the old-rose 
dressing-gown that Leonard had given Annie, and, with a little 
colour in her face, was quite young again. 

"But you look quite pretty in that," he said. 

"Yes; they make me so fine, I hardly know myself," she 

But when she stood up to walk, the colour went. Paul helped 
her, half-carrying her. At the top of the stairs she was gone. 
He lifted her up and carried her quickly downstairs; laid her 
on the couch. She was light and frail. Her face looked as if 
she were dead, with blue lips shut tight. Her eyes opened — 
her blue, unfailing eyes — and she looked at him pleadingly, 
almost wanting him to forgive her. He held brandy to her lips, 
but her mouth would not open. All the time she watched him 
lovingly. She was only sorry for him. The tears ran down his 
face without ceasing, but not a muscle moved. He was intent 
on getting a little brandy between her lips. Soon she was able 
to swallow a teaspoonful. She lay back, so tired. The tears 
continued to run down his face. 

"But," she panted, "it'll go off. Don't cry!" 

"I'm not doing," he said. 

After a while she was better again. He was kneeling beside 
the couch. They looked into each other's eyes. 

"I don't want you to make a trouble of it," she said. 

"No, mother. You'll have to be quite still, and then you'll 
get better soon." 

But he was white to the lips, and their eyes as they looked 
at each other understood. Her eyes were so blue — such a 
wonderful forget-me-not blue! He felt if only they had been 
of a different colour he could have borne it better. His heart 


seemed to be ripping slowly in his breast. He kneeled there, 
holding her hand, and neither said anything. Then Annie 
came in. 

"Are you all right?" she murmured timidly to her mother. 

"Of course," said Mrs. Morel. 

Paul sat down and told her about Blackpool. She was 

A day or two after, he went to see Dr. Jameson in Notting- 
ham, to arrange for a consulation. Paul had practically no 
money in the world. But he could borrow. 

His mother had been used to go to the public consultation 
on Saturday morning, when she could see the doctor for only 
a nominal sum. Her son went on the same day. The waiting- 
room was full of poor women, who sat patiently on a bench 
around the wall. Paul thought of his mother, in her little black 
costume, sitting waiting likewise. The doctor was late. The 
women all looked rather frightened. Paul asked the nurse in 
attendance if he could see the doctor immediately he came. It 
was arranged so. The women sitting patiently round the walls 
of the room eyed the young man curiously. 

At last the doctor came. He was about forty, good-looking, 
brown-skinned. His wife had died, and he, who had loved her, 
had specialised on women's ailments. Paul told his name and 
his mother's. The doctor did not remember. 

"Number forty-six M.," said the nurse; and the doctor looked 
up the case in his book. 

"There is a big lump that may be a tumour," said Paul. "But 
Dr. Ansell was going to write you a letter." 

"Ah, yes!" replied the doctor, drawing the letter from his 
pocket. He was very friendly, affable, busy, kind. He would 
come to Sheffield the next day. 

"What is your father?" he asked. 

"He is a coal-miner," replied Paul. 

"Not very well off, I suppose?" 

"This — 1 see after this," said Paul. 

"And you?" smiled the doctor. 

"I am a clerk in Jordan's Appliance Factory." 

The doctor smiled at him. 

"Er — to go to Sheffield!" he said, putting the tips of his 
fingers together, and smiling with his eyes. "Eight guineas?" 

"Thank you!" said Paul, flushing and rising. "And you'll 
come to-morrow?" 


"To-morrow — Sunday? Yes! Can you tell me about what 
time there is a train in the afternoon?" 

"There is a Central gets in at four-fifteen." 

"And will there be any way of getting up to the house? 
Shall I have to walk?" The doctor smiled. 

"There is the tram," said Paul; "the Western Park tram." 

The doctor made a note of it. 

"Thank you ! " he said, and shook hands. 

Then Paul went on home to see his father, who was left in 
the charge of Minnie. Walter Morel was getting very grey now. 
Paul found him digging in the garden. He had written him a 
letter. He shook hands with his father. 

"Hello, son! Tha has landed, then?" said the father. 

"Yes," replied the son. "But I'm going back to-night." 

"Are ter, beguy!" exclaimed the collier. "An' has ter eaten 


"That's just like thee," said Morel. "Come thy ways in." 

The father was afraid of the mention of his wife. The two 
went indoors. Paul ate in silence; his father, with earthy hands, 
and sleeves rolled up, sat in the arm-chair opposite and looked 
at him. 

"Well, an' how is she?" asked the miner at length, in a little 

"She can sit up; she can be carried down for tea," said 

"That's a blessin'l" exclaimed Morel. "I hope we s'll soon 
be havin' her whoam, then. An' what's that Nottingham doctor 

"He's going to-morrow to have an examination of her." 

"Is he beguy! That's a tidy penny, I'm thinkin'!" 

"Eight guineas." 

"Eight guineas!" the miner spoke breathlessly. "Well, we 
mun find it from somewhere." 

"I can pay that," said Paul. 

There was silence between them for some time. 

"She says she hopes you're getting on all right with Minnie," 
Paul said. 

"Yes, I'm all right, an' I wish as she was," answered Morel. 

"But Minnie's a good little wench, bless 'er heart!" He sat 
looking dismal. 

"I s'll have to be going at half-past three," said Paul. 


"It's a trapse for thee, lad! Eight guineas! An* when dost 
think she'll be able to get as far as this?" 

"We must see what the doctors say to-morrow," Paul said. 

Morel sighed deeply. The house seemed strangely empty, and 
Paul thought his father looked lost, forlorn, and old. 

"You'll have to go and see her next week, father," he said. 

"I hope she'll be a-whoam by that time," said Morel. 

"If she's not," said Paul, "then you must come." 

"1 dunno wheer I s'll find th' money," said Morel. 

"And I'll write to you what the doctor says," said Paul. 

"But tha writes i' such a fashion, I canna ma'e it out," said 

"Well, I'll write plain." 

It was no good asking Morel to answer, for he could scarcely 
do more than write his own name. 

The doctor came. Leonard felt it his duty to meet him with 
a cab. The examination did not take long. Annie, Arthur, 
Paul, and Leonard were waiting in the parlour anxiously. The 
doctors came down. Paul glanced at them. He had never had 
any hope, except when he had deceived himself. 

"It may be a tumour; we must wait and see," said Dr. 

"And if it is," said Annie, "can you sweal it away?" 

"Probably," said the doctor. 

Paul put eight sovereigns and half a sovereign on the table. 
The doctor counted them, took a florin out of his purse, and 
put that down. 

"Thank you ! " he said. "I'm sorry Mrs. Morel is so ill. But 
we must see what we can do." 

"There can't be an operation?" said Paul. 

The doctor shook his head. 

"No," he said; "and even if there could, her heart wouldn't 
stand it." 

"Is her heart risky?" asked Paul. 

"Yes; you must be careful with her." 

"Very risky?" 

"No — er — no, no! Just take care." 

And the doctor was gone. 

Then Paul carried his mother downstairs. She lay simply, 
like a child. But when he was on the stairs, she put her arms 
round his neck, clinging. 

"I'm so frightened of these beastly stairs," she said. 


And he was frightened, too. He would let Leonard do it 
another time. He felt he could not carry her. 

"He thinks it's only a tumour!" cried Annie to her mother. 
"And he can sweal it away." 

"I knew he could," protested Mrs. Morel scornfully. 

She pretended not to notice that Paul had gone out of the 
room. He sat in the kitchen, smoking. Then he tried to brush 
some grey ash off his coat. He looked again. It was one of his 
mother's grey hairs. It was so long! He held it up, and it 
drifted into the chimney. He let go. The long grey hair floated 
and was gone in the blackness of the chimney. 

The next day he kissed her before going back to work. It was 
very early in the morning, and they were alone. 

"You won't fret, my boy!" she said. 

"No, mother." 

"No; it would be silly. And take care of yourself. 

"Yes," he answered. Then, after a while : "And I shall come 
next Saturday, and shall bring my father?" 

"I suppose he wants to come," she replied. "At any rate, if 
he does you'll have to let him." 

He kissed her again, and stroked the hair from her temples, 
gently, tenderly, as if she were a lover. 

"Shan't you be late?" she murmured. 

"I'm going," he said, very low. 

Still he sat a few minutes, stroking the brown and grey hair 
from her temples. 

"And you won't be any worse, mother?" 

"No, my son." 

"You promise me?" 

"Yes; I won't be any worse." 

He kissed her, held her in his arms for a moment, and was 
gone. In the early sunny morning he ran to the station, crying 
all the way; he did not know what for. And her blue eyes were 
wide and staring as she thought of him. 

In the afternoon he went a walk with Clara. They sat in the 
little wood where bluebells were standing. He took her hand. 

"You'll see," he said to Clara, "she'll never be better." 

"Oh, you don't know!" replied the other. 

"I do," he said. 

She caught him impulsively to her breast. 

"Try and forget it, dear," she said; "try and forget it." 

"I will," he answered. 


Her breast was there, warm for him; her hands were in his 
hair. It was comforting, and he held his arms round her. But 
he did not forget. He only talked to Clara of something else. 
And it was always so. When she felt it coming, the agony, she 
cried to him : 

"Don't think of it, Paul! Don't think of it, my darling!" 

And she pressed him to her breast, rocked him, soothed him 
like a child. So he put the trouble aside for her sake, to take 
it up again immediately he was alone. All the time, as he 
went about, he cried mechanically. His mind and hands were 
busy. He cried, he did not know why. It was his blood weep- 
ing. He was just as much alone whether he was with Clara 
or with the men in the White Horse. Just himself and this 
pressure inside him, that was all that existed. He read some- 
times. He had to keep his mind occupied. And Clara was a 
way of occupying his mind. 

On the Saturday Walter Morel went to Sheffield. He was a 
forlorn figure, looking rather as if nobody owned him. Paul 
ran upstairs. 

"My father's come," he said, kissing his mother. 

"Has he?" she answered weariedly. 

The old collier came rather frightened into the bedroom. 

"How dun I find thee, lass?" he said, going forward and 
kissing her in a hasty, timid fashion. 

"Well, I'm middlin'," she replied. 

"I see tha art," he said. He stood looking down on her. 
Then he wiped his eyes with his handkerchief. Helpless, and 
as if nobody owned him, he looked. 

"Have you gone on all right?" asked the wife, rather wearily, 
as if it were an effort to talk to him. 

"Yis," he answered. " 'Er's a bit behint-hand now and again, 
as yer might expect." 

"Does she have your dinner ready?" asked Mrs. Morel. 

"Well, I've 'ad to shout at 'er once or twice," he said. 

"And you must shout at her if she's not ready. She will 
leave things to the last minute." 

She gave him a few instructions. He sat looking at her as 
if she were almost a stranger to him, before whom he was 
awkward and humble, and also as if he had lost his presence 
of mind, and wanted to run. This feeling that he wanted to 
run away, that he was on thorns to be gone from so trying a 
situation, and yet must linger because it looked better, made 


his presence so trying. He put up his eyebrows for misery, and 
clenched his fists on his knees, feeling so awkward in presence 
of big trouble. 

Mrs. Morel did not change much. She stayed in Sheffield for 
two months. If anything, at the end she was rather worse. But 
she wanted to go home. Annie had her children. Mrs. Morel 
wanted to go home. So they got a motor-car from Nottingham 
— for she was too ill to go by train — and she was driven 
through the sunshine. It was just August; everything was 
bright and warm. Under the blue sky they could all see she 
was dying. Yet she was joUier than she had been for weeks. 
They all laughed and talked. 

"Annie," she exclaimed, "I saw a lizard dart on that rock!" 

Her eyes were so quick; she was still so full of life. 

Morel knew she was coming. He had the front door open. 
Everybody was on tiptoe. Half the street turned out. They 
heard the sound of the great motor-car. Mrs. Morel, smiling, 
drove home down the street. 

"And just look at them all come out to see me!" she said. 
"But there, 1 suppose 1 should have done the same. How do 
you do, Mrs. Mathews? How are you, Mrs. Harrison?" 

They none of them could hear, but they saw her smile and 
nod. And they all saw death on her face, they said. It was a 
great event in the street. 

Morel wanted to carry her indoors, but he was too old. 
Arthur took her as if she were a child. They had set her a big, 
deep chair by the hearth where her rocking-chair used to stand. 
When she was unwrapped and seated, and had drunk a little 
brandy, she looked round the room. 

"Don't think I don't like your house, Annie," she said; "but 
it's nice to be in my own home again." 

And Morel answered huskily : 

"It is, lass, it is." 

And Minnie, the little quaint maid, said: 

"An' we glad t' 'ave yer." 

There was a lovely yellow ravel of sunflowers in the garden. 
She looked out of the window. 

'There are my sunflowers!" she said. 




"By the way," said Dr. Ansell one evening when Morel was 
in Sheffield, "we've got a man in the fever hospital here who 
comes from Nottingham — Dawes. He doesn't seem to have 
many belongings in this world." 

"Baxter Dawes!" Paul exclaimed. 

"That's the man — has been a fine fellow, physically, 1 should 
think. Been in a bit of a mess lately. You know him?" 

"He used to work at the place where 1 am." 

"Did he ? Do you know anything about him ? He's just sulk- 
ing, or he'd be a lot better than he is by now." 

"1 don't know anything of his home circumstances, except 
that he's separated from his wife and has been a bit down, 1 
believe. But tell him about me, will you? Tell him I'll come 
and see him." 

The next time Morel saw the doctor he said : 

"And what about Dawes?" 

"1 said to him," answered the other, " 'Do you know a man 
from Nottingham named Morel ?' and he looked at me as if he'd 
jump at my throat. So I said: 'I see you know the name; it's 
Paul Morel.' Then 1 told him about your saying you would go 
and see him. 'What does he want?' he said, as if you were a 

"And did he say he would see me?" asked Paul. 

"He wouldn't say anything — good, bad or indifferent," 
replied the doctor. 

"Why not?" 

"That's what I want to know. There he lies and sulks, day 
in, day out. Can't get a word of information out of him." 

"Do you think I might go?" asked Paul. 

"You might." 

There was a feeling of connection between the rival men, 
more than ever since they had fought. In a way Morel felt 
guilty towards the other, and more or less responsible. And 
being in such a state of soul himself, he felt an almost painful 
nearness to Dawes, who was suffering and despairing, too. 
Besides, they had met in a naked extremity of hate, and it was 
a bond. At any rate, the elemental man in each had met. 


He went down to the isolation hospital, with Dr. Ansell's 
card. This sister, a healthy young Irishwoman, led him down 
the ward. 

"A visitor to see you, Jim Crow," she said. 

Dawes turned over suddenly with a startled grunt. 


"Caw!" she mocked. "He can only say 'Caw!' I have brought 
you a gentleman to see you. Now say Thank you,' and show 
some manners." 

Dawes looked swiftly with his dark, startled eyes beyond 
the sister at Paul. His look was full of fear, mistrust, hate, 
and misery. Morel met the swift, dark eyes, and hesitated. 
The two men were afraid of the naked selves they had been. 

"Dr. Ansell told me you were here," said Morel, holding out 
his hand. 

Dawes mechanically shook hands. 

"So I thought I'd come in," continued Paul. 

There was no answer. Dawes lay staring at the opposite wall. 

"Say 'Caw!' " mocked the nurse. "Say 'Caw!' Jim Crow." 

"He is getting on all right?" said Paul to her. 

"Oh yes! He lies and imagines he's going to die," said the 
nurse, "and it frightens every word out of his mouth." 

"And you must have somebody to talk to," laughed Morel. 

"That's it!" laughed the nurse. "Only two old men and a 
boy who always cries. It is hard lines! Here am I dying to 
hear Jim Crow's voice, and nothing but an odd 'Caw!' will 
he give!" 

"So rough on you!" said Morel. 

"Isn't it?" said the nurse. 

"I suppose I am a godsend," he laughed. 

"Oh, dropped straight from heaven!" laughed the nurse. 

Presently she left the two men alone. Dawes was thinner, 
and handsome again, but life seemed low in him. As the doctor 
said, he was lying sulking, and would not move forward 
towards convalescence. He seemed to grudge every beat of 
his heart. 

"Have you had a bad time?" asked Paul. 

Suddenly again Dawes looked at him. 

"What are you doing in Sheffield?" he asked. 

"My mother was taken ill at my sister's in Thurston Street. 
What are you doing here?" 

There was no answer. 


"How long have you been in?" Morel asked. 

"I couldn't say for sure," Dawes answered grudgingly. 

He lay staring across at the wall opposite, as if trying to 
believe Morel was not there. Paul felt his heart go hard and 

"Dr. Ansell told me you were here," he said coldly. 

The other man did not answer. 

"Typhoid's pretty bad, I know," Morel persisted. 

Suddenly Dawes said: 

"What did you come for?" 

"Because Dr. Ansell said you didn't know anybody here. Do 

"1 know nobody nowhere," said Dawes. 

"Well," said Paul, "it's because you don't choose to, then." 

There was another silence. 

"We s'U be taking my mother home as soon as we can," 
said Paul. 

"What's a-matter with her?" asked Dawes, with a sick man's 
interest in illness. 

"She's got a cancer." 

There was another silence. 

"But we want to get her home," said Paul. "We s'll have 
to get a motor-car." 

Dawes lay thinking. 

"Why don't you ask Thomas Jordan to lend you his?" said 

"It's not big enough," Morel answered. 

Dawes blinked his dark eyes as he lay thinking. 

"Then ask Jack Pilkington; he'd lend it you. You know 

"I think I s'll hire one," said Paul. 

"You're a fool if you do," said Dawes. 

The sick man was gaunt and handsome again. Paul was sorry 
for him because his eyes looked so tired. 

"Did you get a job here?" he asked. 

"I was only here a day or two before I was taken bad," 
Dawes replied. 

"You want to get in a convalescent home," said Paul. 

The other's face clouded again. 

".I'm goin' in no convalescent home," he said. 

"My father's been in the one at Seathorpe, an' he liked it. 
Dr. Ansell would get you a recommend." 


Dawes lay thinking. It was evident he dared not face the 
world again. 

"The seaside would be all right just now," Morel said. "Sun 
on those sandhills, and the waves not far out." 

The other did not answer. 

"By Gad!" Paul concluded, too miserable to bother much; 
"it's all right when you know you're going to walk again, and 

Dawes glanced at him quickly. The man's dark eyes were 
afraid to meet any other eyes in the world. But the real misery 
and helplessness in Paul's tone gave him a feeling of relief. 

"Is she far gone?" he asked. 

"She's going like wax," Paul answered; "but cheerful — 

He bit his lip. After a minute he rose. 

"Well, I'll be going," he said. "I'll leave you this half-crown." 

"I don't want it," Dawes muttered. 

Morel did not answer, but left the coin on the table. 

"Well," he said, "I'll try and run in when I'm back in 
Sheffield. Happen you might like to see my brother-in-law? 
He works in Pyecrofts." 

"I don't know him," said Dawes. 

"He's all right. Should I tell him to come? He might bring 
you some papers to look at." 

The other man did not answer. Paul went. The strong 
emotion that Dawes aroused in him, repressed, made him 

He did not tell his mother, but next day he spoke to Clara 
about this interview. It was in the dinner-hour. The two did 
not often go out together now, but this day he asked her to go 
with him to the Castle grounds. There they sat while the 
scarlet geraniums and the yellow calceolarias blazed in the 
sunlight. She was now always rather protective, and rather 
resentful towards him. 

"Did you know Baxter was in Sheffield Hospital with 
typhoid?" he asked. 

She looked at him with startled grey eyes, and her face went 

"No," she said, frightened. 

"He's getting better. I went to see him. yesterday — the doctor 
told me." 

Clara seemed stricken by the news. 


"Is he very bad?" she asked guiltily. 

"He has been. He's mending now." 

"What did he say to you?" 

"Oh, nothing! He seems to be sulking." 

There was a distance between the two of them. He gave her 
more information. 

She went about shut up and silent. The next time they took 
a walk together, she disengaged herself from his arm, and 
walked at a distance from him. He was wanting her comfort 

"Won't you be nice with me?" he asked. 

She did not answer. 

"What's the matter?" he said, putting his arm across her 

"Don't!" she said, disengaging herself. 

He left her alone, and returned to his own brooding. 

"Is it Baxter that upsets you?" he asked at length. 

"I have been vile to him ! " she said. 

"I've said many a time you haven't treated him well," he 

And there was a hostility between them. Each pursued his 
own train of thought. 

"I've treated him — no, I've treated him badly," she said. 
"And now you treat me badly. It serves me right." 

"How do I treat you badly?" he said. 

"It serves me right," she repeated. "I never considered him 
worth having, and now you don't consider me. But it serves 
me right. He loved me a thousand times better than you 
ever did." 

"He didn't!" protested Paul. 

"He did! At any rate, he did respect me, and that's what 
you don't do." 

"It looked as if he respected you ! " he said. 

"He did! And I made him horrid — I know I did! You've 
taught me that. And he loved me a thousand times better than 
ever you do." 

"All right," said Paul. 

He only wanted to be left alone now. He had his own 
trouble, which was almost too much to bear. Clara only tor- 
mented him and made him tired. He was not sorry when he 
left her. 

She went on the first opportunity to Sheffield to see her 


husband. The meeting was not a success. But she left him 
roses and fruit and money. She wanted to make restitution. 
It was not that she loved him. As she looked at him lying there 
her heart did not warm with love. Only she wanted to humble 
herself to him, to kneel before him. She wanted now to be self- 
sacrificial. After all, she had failed to make Morel really love 
her. She was morally frightened. She wanted to do penance. 
So she kneeled to Dawes, and it gave him a subtle pleasure. But 
the distance between them was still very great — too great. It 
frightened the man. It almost pleased the woman. She liked to 
feel she was serving him across an insuperable distance. She 
was proud now. 

Morel went to see Dawes once or twice. There was a sort 
of friendship between the two men, who were all the while 
deadly rivals. But they never mentioned the woman who was 
between them. 

Mrs. Morel got gradually worse. At first they used to carry 
her downstairs, sometimes even into the garden. She sat 
propped in her chair, smiling, and so pretty. The gold wedding- 
ring shone on her white hand; her hair was carefully brushed. 
And she watched the tangled sunflowers dying, the chrysanthe- 
mums coming out, and the dahUas. 

Paul and she were afraid of each other. He knew, and she 
knew, that she was dying. But they kept up a pretence of 
cheerfulness. Every morning, when he got up, he went into 
her room in his pyjamas. 

"Did you sleep, my dear?" he asked. 

"Yes," she answered. 

"Not very well?" 

"Well, yes!" 

Then he knew she had lain awake. He saw her hand under 
the bedclothes, pressing the place on her side where the pain 

"Has it been bad?" he asked. 

"No. It hurt a bit, but nothing to mention." 

And she sniffed in her old scornful way. As she lay she 
looked like a girl. And all the while her blue eyes watched 
him. But there were the dark pain-circles beneath that made 
him ache again. 

"It's a sunny day," he said. 

"It's a beautiful day." 

"Do you think you'll be carried down?" 


"I shall see." 

Then he went away to get her breakfast. All day long he 
was conscious of nothing but her. It was a long ache that 
made him feverish. Then, when he got home in the early 
evening, he glanced through the kitchen window. She was not 
there; she had not got up. 

He ran straight upstairs and kissed her. He was almost afraid 
to ask: 

"Didn't you get up, pigeon?" 

"No," she said. "It was that morphia; it made me tired." 

"I think he gives you too much," he said. 

"I think he does," she answered. 

He sat down by the bed, miserably. She had a way of curl- 
ing and lying on her side, like a child. The grey and brown 
hair was loose over her ear. 

"Doesn't it tickle you?" he said, gently putting it back. 

"It does," she replied. 

His face was near hers. Her blue eyes smiled straight into 
his, like a girl's — warm, laughing with tender love. It made 
him pant with terror, agony, and love. 

"You want your hair doing in a plait," he said. "Lie still." 

And going behind her, he carefully loosened her hair, brushed 
it out. It was like fine long silk of brown and grey. Her head 
was snuggled between her shoulders. As he lightly brushed and 
plaited her hair, he bit his lip and felt dazed. It all seemed 
unreal, he could not understand it. 

At night he often worked in her room, looking up from time 
to time. And so often he found her blue eyes fixed on him. 
And when their eyes met, she smiled. He worked away again 
mechanically, producing good stuff without knowing what he 
was doing. 

Sometimes he came in, very pale and still, with watchful, 
sudden eyes, like a man who is drunk almost to death. They 
were both afraid of the veils that were ripping between them. 

Then she pretended to be better, chattered to him gaily, made 
a great fuss over some scraps of news. For they had both come 
to the condition when they had to make much of the trifles, 
lest they should give in to the big thing, and their human 
independence would go smash. They were afraid, so they made 
light of things and were gay. 

Sometimes as she lay he knew she was thinking of the past. 
Her mouth gradually shut hard in a line. She was holding her- 


self rigid, so that she might die without ever uttering the great 
cry that was tearing from her. He never forgot that hard, 
utterly lonely and stubborn clenching of her mouth, which 
persisted for weeks. Sometimes, when it was lighter, she talked 
about her husband. Now she hated him. She did not forgive 
him. She could not bear him to be in the room. And a few 
things, the things that had been most bitter to her, came up 
again so strongly that they broke from her, and she told her son. 

He felt as if his life were being destroyed, piece by piece, 
within him. Often the tears came suddenly. He ran to the 
station, the tear-drops falling on the pavement. Often he could 
not go on with his work. The pen stopped writing. He sat 
staring, quite unconscious. And when he came round again he 
felt sick, and trembled in his limbs. He never questioned what 
it was. His mind did not try to analyse or understand. He 
merely submitted, and kept his eyes shut; let the thing go 
over him. 

His mother did the same. She thought of the pain, of the 
morphia, of the next day; hardly ever of the death. That was 
coming, she knew. She had to submit to it. But she would 
never entreat it or make friends with it. Blind, with her face 
shut hard and blind, she was pushed towards the door. The 
days passed, the weeks, the months. 

Sometimes, in the sunny afternoons, she seemed almost 

"I try to think of the nice times — when we went to Mable- 
thorpe, and Robin Hood's Bay, and Shanklin," she said. "After 
all, not everybody has seen those beautiful places. And wasn't 
it beautiful ! I try to think of that, not of the other things." 

Then, again, for a whole evening she spoke not a word; 
neither did he. They were together, rigid, stubborn, silent. He 
went into his room at last to go to bed, and leaned against the 
doorway as if paralysed, unable to go any farther. His con- 
sciousness went. A furious storm, he knew not what, seemed 
to ravage inside him. He stood leaning there, submitting, never 

In the morning they were both normal again, though her 
face was grey with the morphia, and her body felt like ash. 
But they were bright again, nevertheless. Often, especially if 
Annie or Arthur were at home, he neglected her. He did not 
see much of Clara. Usually he was with men. He was quick 
and active and lively; but when his friends saw him go white 


to the gills, his eyes dark and glittering, they had a certain 
mistrust of him. Sometimes he went to Clara, but she was 
almost cold to him. 

"Take me ! " he said simply. 

Occasionally she would. But she was afraid. When he had 
her then, there was something in it that made her shrink away 
from him — something unnatural. She grew to dread him. He 
was so quiet, yet so strange. She was afraid of the man who 
was not there with her, whom she could feel behind this make- 
belief lover; somebody sinister, that filled her with horror. She 
began to have a kind of horror of him. It was almost as if he 
were a criminal. He wanted her — he had her — and it made her 
feel as if death itself had her in its grip. She lay in horror. 
There was no man there loving her. She almost hated him. 
Then came little bouts of tenderness. But she dared not pity 

Dawes had come to Colonel Seely's Home near Nottingham. 
There Paul visited him sometimes, Clara very occasionally. 
Between the two men the friendship developed peculiarly. 
Dawes, who mended very slowly and seemed very feeble, 
seemed to leave himself in the hands of Morel. 

In the beginning of November Clara reminded Paul that it 
was her birthday. 

"I'd nearly forgotten," he said. 

"I'd thought quite," she replied. 

"No. Shall we go to the seaside for the week-end?" 

They went. It was cold and rather dismal. She waited for 
him to be warm and tender with her, instead of which he 
seemed hardly aware of her. He sat in the railway-carriage, 
looking out, and was startled when she spoke to him. He was 
not definitely thinking. Things seemed as if they did not exist. 
She went across to him. 

"What is it dear?" she asked. 

"Nothing!" he said. "Don't those windmill sails look 

He sat holding her hand. He could not talk nor think. It 
was a comfort, however, to sit holding her hand. She was dis- 
satisfied and miserable. He was not with her; she was nothing. 

And in the evening they sat among the sandhills, looking at 
the black, heavy sea. 

"She will never give in," he said quietly. 

Clara's heart sank. 


"No," she replied. 

"There are different ways of dying. My father's people are 
frightened, and have to be hauled out of life into death like 
cattle into a slaughter-house, pulled by the neckj but my 
mother's people are pushed from behind, inch by inch. They 
are stubborn people, and won't die." 

"Yes," said Clara. 

"And she won't die. She can't. Mr. Renshaw, the parson, 
was in the other day. Think!' he said to her; 'you will have 
your mother and father, and your sisters, and your son, in the 
Other Land.' And she said: *1 have done without them for a 
long time, and can do without them now. It is the living I want, 
not the dead.' She wants to live even now." 

"Oh, how horrible!" said Clara, too frightened to speak. 

"And she looks at me, and she wants to stay with me," he 
went on monotonously. "She's got such a will, it seems as if 
she would never go — never!" 

"Don't think of it!" cried Clara. 

"And she was religious — she is religious now — but it is no 
good. She simply won't give in. And do you know, I said to 
her on Thursday : 'Mother, if I had to die, I'd die. I'd will to 
die.' And she said to me, sharp : 'Do you think I haven't ? Do 
you think you can die when you like?' " 

His voice ceased. He did not cry, only went on speaking 
monotonously. Clara wanted to run. She looked round. There 
was the black, re-echoing shore, the dark sky down on her. 
She got up terrified. She wanted to be where there was light, 
where there were other people. She wanted to be away 
from him. He sat with his head dropped, not moving a muscle. 

"And I don't want her to eat," he said, "and she knows it. 
When I ask her : 'Shall you have anything' she's almost afraid 
to say 'Yes.' 'I'll have a cup of Benger's,' she says. 'It'll only 
keep your strength up,' I said to her. 'Yes' — and she almost 
cried — 'but there's such a gnawing when I eat nothing, I can't 
bear it.' So 1 went and made her the food. It's the cancer that; 
gnaws like that at her. I vdsh she'd die!" 

"Come!" said Clara roughly. "I'm going." 

He followed her down the darkness of the sands. He did not 
come to her. He seemed scarcely aware of her existence. And 
she was afraid of him, and disliked him. 

In the same acute daze they went back to Nottingham. He 
was always busy, always doing something, always going from 


one to the other of his friends. 

On the Monday he went to see Baxter Dawes. Listless and 
pale, the man rose to greet the other, cUnging to his chair as he 
held out his hand. 

"You shouldn't get up," said Paul. 

Dawes sat down heavily, eyeing Morel with a sort of 

"Don't you waste your time on me," he said, "if you've owt 
better to do." 

"I wanted to come," said Paul. "Here ! I brought you some 

The invalid put them aside. 

"It's not been much of a week-end," said Morel. 

"How's your mother?" asked the other. 

"Hardly any different." 

"I thought she was perhaps worse, being as you didn't come 
on Sunday." 

"1 was at Skegness," said Paul. "1 wanted a change." 

The other looked at him with dark eyes. He seemed to be 
waiting, not quite daring to ask, trusting to be told. 

"I went with Clara," said Paul. 

"1 knew as much," said Dawes quietly. 

"It was an old promise," said Paul. 

"You have it your own way," said Dawes. 

This was the first time Clara had been definitely mentioned 
between them. 

"Nay," said Morel slowly; "she's tired of me." 

Again Dawes looked at him. 

"Since August she's been getting tired of me," Morel 

The two men were very quiet together. Paul suggested a 
game of draughts. They played in silence. 

"I s'll go abroad when my mother's dead," said Paul. 

"Abroad!" repeated Dawes. 

"Yes; I don't care what I do." 

They continued the game. Dawes was winning. 

"I s'll have to begin a new start of some sort," said Paul; 
"and you as well, I suppose." 

He took one of Dawes's pieces. 

"I dunno where," said the other. 

"Things have to happen," Morel said. "It's no good doing 
anything — at least — no, I don't know. Give me some toffee." 


The two men ate sweets, and began another game of 

"What made that scar on your mouth?" asked Dawes. 

Paul put his hand hastily to his lips, and looked over the 

"1 had a bicycle accident," he said. 

Dawes's hand trembled as he moved the piece. 

"You shouldn't ha' laughed at me," he said, very low. 


"That night on Woodborough Road, when you and her 
passed me — you with your hand on her shoulder." 

"I never laughed at you," said Paul. 

Dawes kept his fingers on the draught-piece. 

"I never knew you were there till the very second when you 
passed," said Morel. 

"It was that as did me," Dawes said, very low. 

Paul took another sweet. 

"I never laughed," he said, "except as I'm always laughing." 

They finished the game. 

That night Morel walked home from Nottingham, in order 
to have something to do. The furnaces flared in a red blotch 
over Bulwell; the black clouds were like a low ceiling. As he 
went along the ten miles of highroad, he felt as if he were 
walking out of life, between the black levels of the sky and 
the earth. But at the end was only the sick-room. If he walked 
and walked for ever, there was only that place to come to. 

He was not tired when he got near home, or he did not know 
it. Across the field he could see the red firelight leaping in her 
bedroom window. 

"When she's dead," he said to himself, "that fire will go out." 

He took off his boots quietly and crept upstairs. His mother's 
door was wide open, because she slept alone still. The red fire- 
light dashed its glow on the landing. Soft as a shadow, he 
peeped in her doorway. 

"Paul!" she murmured. 

His heart seemed to break again. He went in and sat by the 

"How late you are!" she murmured. 

"Not very," he said. 

"Why, what time is it?" The murmur came plaintive and 

"It's only just gone eleven." 



That was not true; it was nearly one o'clock. 

"Oh!" she said; "I thought it was later." 

And he knew the unutterable misery of her nights that would 
not go. 

"Can't you sleep, my pigeon?" he said. 

"No, 1 can't/' she wailed. 

"Never mind. Little!" he said crooning. "Never mind, my 
love. I'll stop with you half an hour, my pigeon; then perhaps 
it will be better." 

And he sat by the bedside, slowly, rhythmically stroking 
her brows with his finger-tips, stroking her eyes shut, soothing 
her, holding her fingers in his free hand. They could hear the 
sleepers' breathing in the other rooms. 

"Now go to bed," she murmured, lying quite still under his 
fingers and his love. 

"Will you sleep?" he asked. 

"Yes, 1 think so." 

"You feel better, my Little, don't you?" 

"Yes," she said, like a fretful, half -soothed child. 

Still the days and the weeks went by. He hardly ever went 
to see Clara now. But he wandered restlessly from one person 
to another for some help, and there was none anywhere. 
Miriam had written to him tenderly. He went to see her. Her 
heart was very sore when she saw him, white, gaunt, with his 
eyes dark and bewildered. Her pity came up, hurting her till 
she could not bear it. 

"How is she?" she asked. 

"The same — the same!" he said. "The doctor says she can't 
last, but I know she will. She'll be here at Christmas." 

Miriam shuddered. She drew him to her; she pressed him to 
,*her bosom; she kissed him and kissed him. He submitted, but 
lit was torture. She could not kiss his agony. That remained 
I alone and apart. She kissed his face, and roused his blood, while 
' his soul was apart writhing with the agony of death. And she 
kissed him and fingered his body, till at last, feeling he would 
go mad, he got away from her. It was not that he wanted just 

(then — not that. And she thought she had soothed him and done 
him good. 
December came, and some snow. He stayed at home all the 
while now. They could not afford a nurse. Annie came to look 
after her mother; the parish nurse, whom they loved, came in 
morning and evening. Paul shared the nursing with Annie. 




Often, in the evenings, when friends were in the kitchen with 
them, they all laughed together and shook with laughter. It 
was reaction. Paul was so comical, Annie was so quaint. The 
whole party laughed till they cried, trying to subdue the sound. 
And Mrs. Morel, lying alone in the darkness heard them, and 
among her bitterness was a feeling of relief. 

Then Paul would go upstairs gingerly, guiltily, to see if she 
had heard. 

"Shall I give you some milk?" he asked. 

"A little," she replied plaintively. 

And he would put some water with it, so that it should not 
nourish her. Yet he loved her more than his own life. 

She had morphia every night, and her heart got fitful. Annie 
slept beside her. Paul would go in in the early morning, when 
his sister got up. His mother was wasted and almost ashen in 
the morning with the morphia. Darker and darker grew her 
eyes, all pupil, with the torture. In the mornings the weariness 
and ache was too much to bear. Yet she could not — would not 
— weep, or even complain much. 

"You slept a bit later this morning, little one," he would say 
to her. 

"Did I?" she answered, with fretful weariness. 

"Yes; it's nearly eight o'clock." 

He stood looking out of the window. The whole country 
was bleak and pallid under the snow. Then he felt her pulse. 
There was a strong stroke and a weak one, like a sound and its 
echo. That was supposed to betoken the end. She let him feel 
her wrist, knowing what he wanted. 

Sometimes they looked in each other's eyes. Then they 
almost seemed to make an agreement. It was almost as if he 
were agreeing to die also. But she did not consent to die; she 
would not. Her body was wasted to a fragment of ash. Her 
eyes were dark and full of torture. 

"Can't you give her something to put an end to it?" he asked 
the doctor at last. 

But the doctor shook his head. 

"She can't last many days now, Mr. Morel," he said. 

Paul went indoors. 

"I can't bear it much longer; we shall all go mad," said Annie. 

The two sat down to breakfast. 

"Go and sit with her while we have breakfast, Minnie," said 
Annie. But the girl was frightened. 


Paul went through the country, through the woods, over the 
snow. He saw the marks of rabbits and birds in the white snow. 
He wandered miles and miles. A smoky red sunset came on 
slowly, painfully, lingering. He thought she would die that 
day. There was a donkey that came up to him over the snow 
by the wood's edge, and put its head against him, and walked 
with him alongside. He put his arms round the donkey's neck, 
and stroked his cheeks against his ears. 

His mother, silent, was still alive, with her hard mouth 
gripped grimly, her eyes of dark torture only living. 

It was nearing Christmas; there was more snow. Annie and 
he felt as if they could go on no more. Still her dark eyes were 
alive. Morel, silent and frightened, obliterated himself. Some- 
times he would go into the sick-room and look at her. Then he 
backed out, bewildered. 

She kept her hold on life still. The miners had been out on 
strike, and returned a fortnight or so before Christmas. Minnie 
went upstairs with the feeding-cup. It was two days after the 
men had been in. 

"Have the men been saying their hands are sore, Minnie?" 
she asked, in the faint, querulous voice that would not give in. 
Minnie stood surprised. 

"Not as I know of, Mrs. Morel," she answered. 

"But I'll bet they are sore," said the dying woman, as she 
moved her head with a sigh of weariness. But, at any rate, 
there'll be something to buy in with this week." 

Not a thing did she let slip. 

"Your father's pit things will want well airing, Annie," she 
said, when the men were going back to work. 

"Don't you bother about that, my dear," said Annie. 

One night Annie and Paul were alone. Nurse was up- 

"She'll live over Christmas," said Annie. They were both full 
of horror. 

"She won't," he replied grimly. "1 s'll give her morphia." 

"Which?" said Annie. 

"All that came from Sheffield," said Paul. 

"Ay — do!" said Annie. 

The next day he was painting in the bedroom. She seemed 
to be asleep. He stepped softly backwards and forwards at 
his painting. Suddenly her small voice wailed : 

"Don't walk about, Paul." 


He looked round. Her eyes, like dark bubbles in her face, 
were looking at him. 

"No, my dear," he said gently. Another fibre seemed to snap 
in his heart. 

That evening he got all the morphia pills there were, and 
took them downstairs. Carefully he crushed them to powder. 

"What are you doing?" said Annie. 

"I s'll put 'em in her night milk." 

Then they both laughed together like two conspiring 
children. On top of all their horror flicked this little sanity. 

Nurse did not come that night to settle Mrs. Morel down. 
Paul went up with the hot milk in a feeding-cup. It was nine 

She was reared up in bed, and he put the feeding-cup between 
her lips that he would have died to save from any hurt. She 
took a sip, then put the spout of the cup away and looked at 
him with her dark, wondering eyes. He looked at her. 

"Oh, it is bitter, Paul!" she said, making a little grimace. 

"It's a new sleeping draught the doctor gave me for you," he 
said. "He thought it wouldn't leave you in such a state in the 

"And I hope it won't," she said, like a child. 

She drank some more of the milk. 

"But it is horrid!" she said. 

He saw her frail fingers over the cup, her lips making a little 

"1 know — I tasted it," he said. "But I'll give you some clean 
milk afterwards." 

"1 think so," she said, and she went on with the draught. 
She was obedient to him like a child. He wondered if she knew. 
He saw her poor wasted throat moving as she drank with 
difficulty. Then he ran downstairs for more milk. There were 
no grains in the bottom of the cup. 

"Has she had it?" whispered Annie. 

"Yes — and she said it was bitter." 

"Oh!" laughed Annie, putting her under lip between her 

"And I told her it was a new draught. Where's that milk?" 

They both went upstairs. 

"1 wonder why nurse didn't come to settle me down?" com- 
plained the mother, like a child, wistfully. 

"She said she was going to a concert, my love," replied Annie. 




"Did she?" 

They were silent a minute. Mrs. Morel gulped the little clean 

"Annie, that draught was horrid ! " she said plaintively. 

"Was it, my love? Well, never mind." 

The mother sighed again with weariness. Her pulse was very 

"Let us settle you down," said Annie. "Perhaps nurse will 
be so late." 

"Ay," said the mother — "try." 

They turned the clothes back. Paul saw his mother like a 
girl curled up in her flannel nightdress. Quickly they made one 
half of the bed, moved her, made the other, straightened her 
nightgown over her small feet, and covered her up. 

'There," said Paul, stroking her softly. "There! — now you'll 

"Yes," she said. "1 didn't think you could do the bed so 
nicely," she added, almost gaily. Then she curled up, with her 
cheek on her hand, her head snugged between her shoulder. 
Paul put the long thin plait of grey hair over her shoulder and 
kissed her. 

"You'll sleep, my love," he said. 

"Yes," she answered trustfully. "Good-night." 

They put out the light, and it was still. 

Morel was in bed. Nurse did not come. Annie and Paul came 
to look at her at about eleven. She seemed to be sleeping as 
usual after her draught. Her mouth had come a bit open. 

"Shall we sit up?" said Paul. 

"I s'll lie with her as 1 always do," said Annie. "She might 
wake up." 

"All right. And call me if you see any difference." 


They lingered before the bedroom fire, feeling the night big 
and black and snowy outside, their two selves alone in the 
world. At last he went into the next room and went to bed. 

He slept almost immediately, but kept waking every now 
and again. Then he went sound asleep. He started awake at 
Annie's whispered, "Paul, Paul ! " He saw his sister in her white 
nightdress, with her long plait of hair down her back, standing 
in the darkness. 

"Yes?" he whispered, sitting up. 

"Come and look at her." 


He slipped out of bed. A bud of gas was burning in the sick 
chamber. His mother lay with her cheek on her hand, curled 
up as she had gone to sleep. But her mouth had fallen open, 
and she breathed with great, hoarse breaths, like snoring, and 
there were long intervals between. 

"She's going!" he whispered. 

"Yes," said Annie. 

"How long has she been like it?" 

"I only just woke up." 

Annie huddled into the dressing-gown, Paul wrapped himself 
in a brown blanket. It was three o'clock. He mended the fire. 
Then the two sat waiting. The great, snoring breath was taken 
— held awhile — then given back. There was a space — a long 
space. Then they started. The great, snoring breath was taken 
again. He bent close down and looked at her. 

"Isn't it awful!" whispered Annie. 

He nodded. They sat down again helplessly. Again came the 
great, snoring breath. Again they hung suspended. Again it 
was given back, long and harsh. The sound, so irregular, at 
such wide intervals, sounded through the house. Morel, in his 
room, slept on. Paul and Annie sat crouched, huddled, motion- 
less. The great snoring sound began again — there was a painful 
pause while the breath was held — back came the rasping 
breath. Minute after minute passed. Paul looked at her again, 
bending low over her. 

"She may last like this," he said. 

They were both silent. He looked out of the window, and 
could faintly discern the sno\v on the garden. 

"You go to my bed," he said to Annie. "I'll sit up." 

"No," she said, "I'll stop with you." 

"I'd rather you didn't," he said. 

At last Annie crept out of the room, and he was alone. He 
hugged himself in his brown blanket, crouched in front of his 
mother, watching. She looked dreadful, with the bottom jaw 
fallen back. He watched. Sometimes he thought the great 
breath would never begin again. He could not bear it — the 
waiting. Then suddenly, startling him, came the great harsh 
sound. He mended the fire again, noiselessly. She must not be 
disturbed. The minutes went by. The night was going, breath 
by breath. Each time the sound came he felt it wring him, till 
at last he could not feel so much. 

His father got up. Paul heard the miner drawing his stocking 


on, yawning. Then Morel, in shirt and stockings, entered. 

"Hush!" said Paul. 

Morel stood watching. Then he looked at his son, helplessly, 
and in horror. 

"Had 1 better stop a-whoam?" he whispered. 

"No. Go to work. She'll last through to-morrow." 

"I don't think so." 

"Yes. Go to work." 

The miner looked at her again, in fear, and went obediently 
out of the room. Paul saw the tape of his garters swinging 
against his legs. 

After another half-hour Paul went downstairs and drank a 
cup of tea, then returned. Morel, dressed for the pit, came up- 
stairs again. 

"Am I to go?" he said. 


And in a few minutes Paul heard his father's heavy steps go 
thudding over the deadening snow. Miners called in the streets 
as they tramped in gangs to work. The terrible, long-drawn 
breaths continued — heave — Sheave — heave; then a long pause — 
then — ah-h-h-h-h! as it came back. Far away over the snow 
sounded the hooters of the ironworks. One after another they 
crowed and boomed, some small and far away, some near, ttie 
blowers of the collieries and the other works . Then there was 
silence. He mended the fire. The great breaths broke the silence 
— she looked just the same. He put back the blind and peered 
out. Still it was dark. Perhaps there was a lighter tinge. Per- 
haps the snow was bluer. He drew up the blind and got dressed. 
Then, shuddering, he drank brandy from the bottle on the 
wash-stand. The snow was growing blue. He heard a cart 
clanking down the street. Yes, it was seven o'clock, and it was 
coming a little bit light. He heard some people calling. The 
world was waking. A grey, deathly dawn crept over the snow. 
Yes, he could see the houses. He put out the gas. It seemed 
very dark. The breathing came still, but he was almost used to 
it. He could see her. She was just the same. He wondered if 
he piled heavy clothes on top of her it would stop. He looked 
at her. That was not her — not her a bit. If he piled the blanket 
and heavy coats on her 

Suddenly the door opened, and Annie entered. She looked at 
him questioningly. 

"Just the same," he said calmly. 


They whispered together a minute, then went downstairs to 
get breakfast. It was twenty to eight. Soon Annie came down. 

"Isn't it awful! Doesn't she look awful!" she whispered, 
dazed with horror. 

He nodded. 

"If she looks like that!" said Annie. 

"Drink some tea," he said. 

They went upstairs again. Soon the neighbours came with 
their frightened question : 

"How is she?" 

It went on just the same. She lay with her cheek in her 
hand, her mouth fallen open, and the great, ghastly snores 
came and went. 

At ten o'clock nurse came. She looked strange and woe- 

"Nurse," cried Paul, "she'll last like this for days?" 

"She can't, Mr. Morel," said nurse. "She can't." 

There was a silence. 

"Isn't it dreadful!" wailed the nurse. "Who would have 
thought she could stand it? Go down now, Mr. Morel, go 

At last, at about eleven o'clock, he went downstairs and sat 
in the neighbour's house. Annie was downstairs also. Nurse 
and Arthur were upstairs. Paul sat with his head in his hand. 
Suddenly Annie came flying across the yard crying, half mad : 

"Paul— Paul—she's gone!" 

In a second he was back in his own house and upstairs. She 
lay curled up and still, with her face on her hand, and nurse 
was wiping her mouth. They all stood back. He kneeled down, 
and put his face to hers and his arms round her: 

"My love — my love — oh, my love!" he whispered again and 
again. "My love — oh, my love ! " 

Then he heard the nurse behind him, crying, saying : 

"She's better, Mr. Morel, she's better." 

When he took his face up from his warm, dead mother he 
went straight downstairs and began blacking his boots. 

There was a good deal to do, letters to vmte, and so on. The 
doctor came and glanced at her, and sighed. 

"Ay — poor thing!" he said, then turned away. "Well, call 
at tlie surgery about six for the certificate." 

The father came home from work at about four o'clock. He 
dragged silently into the house and sat down. Minnie bustled 


to give him his dinner. Tired, he laid his black arms on the 
table. There were swede turnips for his dinner, which he liked. 
Paul wondered if he knew. It was some time, and nobody had 
spoken. At last the son said: 

"You noticed the blinds were down?" 

Morel looked up. 

"No," he said. "Why— has she gone?" 


"When wor that?" 

"About twelve this morning." 


The miner sat still for a moment, then began his dinner. It 
was as if nothing had happened. He ate his turnips in silence. 
Afterwards he washed and went upstairs to dress. The door of 
her room was shut. 

"Have you seen her?" Annie asked of him when he came 

"No," he said. 

In a little while he went out. Annie went away, and Paul 
called on the undertaker, the clergyman, the doctor, the 
registrar. It was a long business. He got back at nearly eight 
o'clock. The undertaker was coming soon to measure for the 
coffin. The house was empty except for her. He took a candle 
and went upstairs. 

The room was cold, that had been warm for so long. Flowers, 
bottles, plates, all sick-room litter was taken away; everything 
was harsh and austere. She lay raised on the bed, the sweep of 
the sheet from the raised feet was like a clean curve of snow, 
so silent. She lay like a maiden asleep. With his candle in his 
hand, he bent over her. She lay like a girl asleep and dreaming 
of her love. The mouth was a little open as if wondering from 
the suffering, but her face was young, her brow clear and 
white as if life had never touched it. He looked again at the 
eyebrows, at the small, winsome nose a bit on one side. She 
was young again. Only the hair as it arched so beautifully 
from her temples was mixed with silver, and the two simple 
plaits that lay on her shoulders were filigree of silver and 
brown. She would wake up. She would lift her eyelids. She 
was with him still. He bent and kissed her passionately. But 
there was coldness against his mouth. He bit his lips with 
horror. Looking at her, he felt he could never, never let her 
go. No! He stroked the hair from her temples. That, too, was 


cold. He saw the mouth so dumb and wondering at the hurt. 
Then he crouched on the floor, whispering to her: 

"Mother, mother!" 

He was still with her when the undertakers came, young men 
who had been to school with him. They touched her reverently, 
and in a quiet, businesslike fashion. They did not look at her. 
He watched jealously. He and Annie guarded her fiercely. They 
would not let anybody come to see her, and the neighbours 
were offended. 

After a while Paul went out of the house, and played cards 
at a friend's. It was midnight when he got back. His father 
rose from the couch as he entered, saying in a plaintive 

"I thought tha wor niver comin', lad." 

"I didn't think you'd sit up," said Paul. 

His father looked so forlorn. Morel had been a man without 
fear — simply nothing frightened him. Paul realised with a start 
that he had been afraid to go to bed, alone in the house with 
his dead. He was sorry. 

"I forgot you'd be alone, father," he said. 

"Dost want owt to eat?" asked Morel. 


"Sithee — 1 made thee a drop o' hot milk. Get it down thee; 
it's cold enough for owt." 

Paul drank' it. 

After a while Morel went to bed. He hurried past the closed 
door, and left his own door open. Soon the son came upstairs 
also. He went in to kiss her good-night, as usual. It was cold 
and dark. He wished they had kept her fire burning. Still she 
dreamed her young dream. But she would be cold. 

"My dear!" he whispered. "My dear!" 

And he did not kiss her, for fear she should be cold and 
strange to him. It eased him she slept so beautifully. He shut 
her door softly, not to wake her, and went to bed. 

In the morning Morel summoned his courage, hearing Annie 
downstairs and Paul coughing in the room across the landing. 
He opened her door, and went into the darkened room. He saw 
the white uplifted form in the twilight, but her he dared not 
see. Bewildered, too frightened to possess any of his faculties, 
he got out of the room again and left her. He never looked at 
her again. He had not seen her for months, because he had not 
dared to look. And she looked like his young wife again. 


"Have you seen her?" Annie asked of him sharply after 

"Yes," he said. 

"And don't you think she looks nice?" 


He went out of the house soon after. And all the time he 
seemed to be creeping aside to avoid it. 

Paul w^ent about from place to place, doing the business of 
the death. He met Clara in Nottingham, and they had tea 
together in a cafe, vs^hen they were quite jolly again. She was 
infinitely relieved to find he did not take it tragically. 

Later, when the relatives began to come for the funeral, the 
affair became public, and the children became social beings. 
They put themselves aside. They buried her in a furious storm 
of rain and wind. The wet clay glistened, all the white flowers 
were soaked. Annie gripped his arm and leaned forward. Down 
below she saw a dark corner of William's coffin. The oak box 
sank steadily. She was gone. The rain poured in the grave. The 
procession of black, with its umbrellas glistening, turned away. 
The cemetery was deserted under the drenching cold rain. 

Paul went home and busied himself supplying the guests with 
drinks. His father sat in the kitchen with Mrs. Morel's relatives, 
"superior" people, and wept, and said what a good lass she'd 
been, and how he'd tried to do everything he could for her — 
everything. He had striven all his life to do what he could for 
her, and he'd nothing to reproach himself with. She was gone, 
but he'd done his best for her. He wiped his eyes with his 
white handkerchief. He'd nothing to reproach himself for, he 
repeated. All his life he'd done his best for her. 

And that was how he tried to dismiss her. He never thought 
of her personally. Everything deep in him he denied. Paul 
hated his father for sitting sentimentalising over her. He knew 
he would do it in the public-houses. For the real tragedy went 
on in Morel in spite of himself. Sometimes, later, he came 
down from his afternoon sleep, white and cowering. 

"I have been dreaming of thy mother," he said in a small 

"Have you, father? When I dream of her it's always just as 
she was when she was well. I dream of her often, but it seems 
quite nice and natural, as if nothing had altered." 

But Morel crouched in front of the fire in terror. 

The weeks passed half-real, not much pain, not much of any- 


thing, perhaps a little relief, mostly a nuit blanche. Paul went 
restless from place to place. For some months, since his mother 
had been worse, he had not made love to Clara. She was, as 
it were, dumb to him, rather distant. Dawes saw her very 
occasionally, but the two could not get an inch across the great 
distance between them. The three of them were drifting 

Dawes mended very slowly. He was in the convalescent 
home at Skegness at Christmas, nearly well again. Paul went 
to the seaside for a few days. His father was vdth Annie in 
Sheffield. Dawes came to Paul's lodgings. His time in the home 
was up. The two men, between whom was such a big reserve, 
seemed faithful to each other. Dawes depended on Morel now. 
He knew Paul and Clara had practically separated. 

Two days after Christmas Paul was to go back to Notting- 
ham. The evening before he sat with Dawes smoking before 
the fire. 

"You know Clara's coming down for the day to-morrow?" 
he said. 

The other man glanced at him. 

"Yes, you told me," he replied. 

Paul drank the remainder of his glass of whisky. 

"I told the landlady your wife was coming," he said. 

"Did you?" said Dawes, shrinking, but almost leaving him- 
self in the other's hands. He got up rather stiffly, and reached 
for Morel's glass. 

"Let me fill you up," he said. 

Paul jumped up. 

"You sit still," he said. 

But Dawes, with rather shaky hand, continued to mix the 

"Say when," he said. 

"Thanks!" replied the other. "But you've no business to 
get up." 

"It does me good, lad," replied Dawes. "I begin to think I'm 
right again, then." 

"You are about right, you know." 

"1 am, certainly I am," said Dawes, nodding to him. 

"And Len says he can get you on in Sheffield." 

Dawes glanced at him again, with dark eyes that agreed vdth 
everything the other would say, perhaps a trifle dominated by 


"It's funny," said Paul, "starting again. I feel in a lot bigger 
mess than you." 

"In what way, lad?" 

"I don't know. I don't know. It's as if I was in a tangled 
sort of hole, rather dark and dreary, and no road anywhere." 

"I know — I understand it," Dawes said, nodding. "But you'll 
find it'll come all right." 

He spoke caressingly. 

"I suppose so," said Paul. 

Dawes knocked his pipe in a hopeless fashion. 

"You've not done for yourself like 1 have," he said. 

Morel saw the wrist and the white hand of the other man 
gripping the stem of the pipe and knocking out the ash, as if 
he had given up. 

"How old are you?" Paul asked. 

"Thirty-nine." replied Dawes, glancing at him. 

Those brown eyes, full of the consciousness of failure, almost 
pleading for reassurance, for someone to re-establish the man in 
himself, to warm him, to set him up firm again, troubled Paul. 

"You'll just be in your prime," said Morel. "You don't look 
as if much life had gone out of you." 

The brown eyes of the other flashed suddenly. 

"It hasn't," he said. "The go is there." 

Paul looked up and laughed. 

"We've both got plenty of life in us yet to make things fly," 
he said. 

The eyes of the two men met. They exchanged one look. 
Having recognised the stress of passion each in the other, they 
both drank their whisky. 

"Yes, begod!" said Dawes, breathless. 

There was a pause. 

"And I don't see," said Paul, "why you shouldn't go on where 
you left off." 

"What " said Dawes, suggestively. 

"Yes — fit your old home together again." 

Dawes hid his face and shook his head. 

"Couldn't be done," he said, and looked up with an ironic 

"Why? Because you don't want?" 


They smoked in silence. Dawes showed his teeth as he bit 
his pipe stem. 


"You mean you don't want her?" asked Paul. 

Dawes stared up at the picture with a caustic expression on 
his face. 

"I hardly know." he said. 

The smoke floated softly up. 

''I believe she wants you," said Paul. 

"Do you?" replied the other, soft, satirical, abstract. 

"Yes. She never really hitched on to me — you were always 
there in the background. That's why she wouldn't get a 

Dawes continued to stare in a satirical fashion at the picture 
over the mantelpiece. 

"That's how women are with me," said Paul. "They want 
me like mad, but they don't want to belong to me. And she 
belonged to you all the time. 1 knew." 

The triumphant male came up in Dawes. He showed his 
teeth more distinctly. 

"Perhaps I was a fool," he said. 

"You were a big fool," said Morel. 

"But perhaps even then you were a bigger fool," said Dawes. 

There was a touch of triumph and malice in it. 

"Do you think so?" said Paul. 

They were silent for some time. 

"At any rate, I'm clearing out to-morrow," said Morel. 

"I see/' answered Dawes. 

Then they did not talk any more. The instinct to murder 
each other had returned. They almost avoided each other. 

They shared the same bedroom. When they retired Dawes 
seemed abstract, thinking of something. He sat on the side of 
the bed in his shirt, looking at his legs. 

"Aren't you getting cold?" asked Morel. 

"I was lookin' at these legs," rephed the other. 

"What's up with 'em? They look all right," replied Paul, 
from his bed. 

"They look all right. But there's some water in 'em yet." 

"And what about it?" 

"Come and look." 

Paul reluctantly got out of bed and went to look at the rather 
handsome legs of the other man that were covered with glisten- 
ing, dark gold hair. 

"Look here," said Dawes, pointing to his shin. "Look at the 
water under here." 


"Where?" said Paul. 

The man pressed in his finger-tips. They left little dents that 
filled up slowly. 

"It's nothing," said Paul. 

"You feel," said Dawes. 

Paul tried with his fingers. It made little dents./ 


"Rotten, isn't it?" said Dawes. 

"Why? It's nothing much." 

"You're not much of a man with water in your legs." 

"I can't see as it makes any difference," said Morel. "I've got 
a weak chest." 

He returned to his own bed. 

"I suppose the rest of me's all right," said Dawes, and he 
put out the light. 

In the morning it was raining. Morel packed his bag. The 
sea was grey and shaggy and dismal. He seemed to be cutting 
himself off from life more and more. It gave him a wicked 
pleasure to do it. 

The two men were at the station. Clara stepped out of the 
train, and came along the platform, very erect and coldly com- 
posed. She wore a long coat and a tweed hat. Both men hated 
her for her composure. Paul shook hands with her at the 
barrier. Dawes was leaning against the bookstall, watching. 
His black overcoat was buttoned up to the chin because of the 
rain. He was pale, with almost a touch of nobility in his quiet- 
ness. He came forward, limping slightly. 

"You ought to look better than this," she said. 

"Oh, I'm all right now." 

The three stood at a loss. She kept the two men hesitating 
near her. 

"Shall we go to the lodging straight off," said Paul, "or some- 
where else?" 

"We may as well go home," said Dawes. 

Paul walked on the outside of the pavement, then Dawes, 
then Clara. They made polite conversation. The sitting-room 
faced the sea, whose tide, grey and shaggy, hissed not far 

Morel swung up the big arm-chair. 

"Sit down. Jack," he said. 

"I don't want that chair," said Dawes, 

"Sit down!" Morel repeated. 


Clara took off her things and laid them on the couch. She 
had a slight air of resentment. Lifting her hair with her fingers, 
she sat down, rather aloof and composed. Paul ran downstairs 
to speak to the landlady. 

"I should think you're cold," said Dawes to his wife. 'Come 
nearer to the fire." 

"Thank you, I'm quite warm," she answered. 

She looked out of the window at the rain and at the sea. 

"When are you going back?" she asked. 

"Well, the rooms are taken until to-morrow, so he wants me 
to stop. He's going back to-night." 

"And then you're thinking of going to Sheffield?" 


"Are you fit to start work?" 

"I'm going to start." 

"You've really got a place?" 

"Yes — begin on Monday." 

"You don't look fit." 

"Why don't I?" 

She looked again out of the window instead of answering. 

"And have you got lodgings in Sheffield?" 


Again she looked away out of the window. The panes were 
blurred with streaming rain. 

"And can you manage all right?" she asked. 

"I s'd think so. I s'll have to!" 

They were silent when Morel returned. 

"I shall go by the four-twenty," he said as he entered. 

Nobody answered. 

"I wish you'd take your boots off," he said to Clara. 

"There's a pair of slippers of mine." 

"Thank you," she said. "They aren't wet." 

He put the slippers near her feet. She left them there. 

Morel sat down. Both the men seemed helpless, and each of 
them had a rather hunted look. But Dawes now carried him- 
self quietly, seemed to yield himself, while Paul seemed to 
screw himself up. Clara thought she had never seen him look 
so small and mean. He was as if trying to get himself into the 
smallest possible compass. And as he went about arranging, 
and as he sat talking, there seemed something false about him 
and out of tune. Watching him unknown, she said to herself 
there was no stability about him. He was fine in his way. 


passionate, and able to give her drinks of pure life when he 
was in one mood. And now he looked paltry and insignificant. 
There was nothing stable about him. Her husband had more 
manly dignity. At any rate he did not waft about with any 
wind. There was something evanescent about Morel, she 
thought, something shifting and false. He would never make 
sure ground for any woman to stand on. She despised him 
rather for his shrinking together, getting smaller. Her husband 
at least was manly, and when he was beaten gave in. But this 
other would never own to being beaten. He would shift round 
and round, prowl, get smaller. She despised him. And yet she 
watched him rather than Dawes, and it seemed as if their three 
fates lay in his hands. She hated him for it. 

She seemed to understand better now about men, and what 
they could or would do. She was less afraid of them, more 
sure of herself. That they were not the small egoists she had 
imagined them made her more comfortable. She had learned 
a good deal — almost as much as she wanted to learn. Her cup 
had been full. It was still as full as she could carry. On the 
whole, she would not be sorry when he was gone. 

They had dinner, and sat eating nuts and drinking by the 
fire. Not a serious word had been spoken. Yet Clara realised 
that Morel was withdrawing from the circle, leaving her the 
option to stay with her husband. It angered her. He was a 
mean fellow, after all, to take what he wanted and then give 
her back. She did not remember that she herself had had what 
she wanted, and really, at the bottom of her heart, wished to 
be given back. 

Paul felt crumpled up and lonely. His mother had really 

supported his life. He had loved her; they two had, in fact, 

\. faced the world together. Now she was gone, and for ever 

^behind him was the gap in life, the tear in the veil, through 

^hich his life seemed to drift slowly, as if he were drawn 

) wards death. He wanted someone of their own free initiative 
^tb help him. The lesser things he began to let go from him, for 
fear of this big thing, the lapse towards death, following in the 
wake of his beloved. Clara could not stand for him to hold on 
ta She wanted him, but not to understand him. He felt she 
wanted the man on top, not the real him that was in trouble. 
That would be too much trouble to her; he dared not give it 
her. She could not cope with him. It made him ashamed. So, 
secretly ashamed because he was in such a mess, because his 


own hold on life was so unsure, because nobody held him, feel- 
ing unsubstantial, shadowy, as if he did not count for much 
in this concrete world, he drew himself together smaller and 
smaller. He did not want to die; he would not give in. But he 
was not afraid of death. If nobody would help, he would go 
on alone. 

Dawes had been driven to the extremity of life, until he was 
afraid. He could go to the brink of death, he could lie on the 
edge and look in. Then, cowed, afraid, he had to crawl back, 
and like a beggar take what offered. There was a certain 
nobility in it. As Clara saw, he owned himself beaten, and he 
wanted to be taken back whether or not. That she could do 
for him. 

It was three o'clock. 

"I am going by the four-twenty," said Paul again to Clara. 
"Are you coming then or later?" 

"I don't know," she said. 

"I'm meeting my father in Nottingham at seven-fifteen," he 

"Then," she answered, "I'll come later." 

Dawes jerked suddenly, as if he had been held on a strain. 
He looked out over the sea, but he saw nothing. 

"There are one or two books in the corner," said Morel. "I've 
done vdth 'em." 

At about four o'clock he went. 

"I shall see you both later," he said, as he shook hands. 

"I suppose so," said Dawes. "An' perhaps — one day — I s'll 
be able to pay you back the money as " 

"I shall come for it, you'll see," laughed Paul. "I s'll be on 
the rocks before I'm very much older." 

"Ay — well " said Dawes. 

"Good-bye," he said to Clara. 

"Good-bye," she said, giving him her hand. Then she 
glanced at him for the last time, dumb and humble. 

He was gone. Dawes and his wife sat down again. 

"It's a nasty day for travelling," said the man. 

"Yes," she answered. 

They talked in a desultory fashion until it grew dark. The 
landlady brought in the tea. Dawes drew up his chair to the 
table without being invited, like a husband. Then he sat humbly 
waiting for his cup. She served him as she would, like a wife, 
not consulting his wish. 


After tea, as it drew near to six o'clock, he went to the 
window. All was dark outside. The sea was roaring. 

"It's raining yet," he said. 

"Is it?" she answered. 

"You won't go to-night, shall you?" he said, hesitating. 

She did not answer. He waited. 

"I shouldn't go in this rain," he said. 

"Do you want me to stay?" she asked. 

His hand as he held the dark curtain trembled. 

"Yes," he said. 

He remained with his back to her. She rose and went slowly 
to him. He let go the curtain, turned, hesitating, towards her. 
She stood with her hands behind her back, looking up at him 
in a heavy, inscrutable fashion. 

"Do you want me, Baxter?" she asked. 

His voice was hoarse as he answered: 

"Do you want to come back to me?" 

She made a moaning noise, lifted her arms, and put them 
round his neck, drawing him to her. He hid his face on her 
shoulder, holding her clasped. 

"Take me back!" she whispered, ecstatic. "Take me back, 
take me back!" And she put her fingers through his fine, thin 
dark hair, as if she were only semi-conscious. He tightened his 
grasp on her. 

"Do you want me again?" he murmured, broken. 



Clara went with her husband to Sheffield, and Paul scarcely 
saw her again. Walter Morel seemed to have let all the trouble 
go over him, and there he was, crawling about on the mud of 
it, just the same. There was scarcely any bond between father 
and son, save that each felt he must not let the other go in 
any actual want. As there was no one to keep on the home, 
and as they could neither of them bear the emptiness of the 
house, Paul took lodgings in Nottingham, and Morel went to 
live with a friendly family in Bestwood. 

Ever)^thing seemed to have gone smash for the young man. 
He could not paint. The picture he finished on the day of his 


mother's death — one that satisfied him — was the last thing he 
did. At work there was no Clara. When he came home he 
could not take up his brushes again. There was nothing left. 

So he was always in the town at one place or another, drink- 
ing, knocking about with the men he knew. It really wearied 
him. He talked to barmaids, to almost any woman, but there 
was that dark, strained look in his eyes, as if he were hunting 

Everything seemed so different, so unreal. There seemed no 
reason why people should go along the street, and houses pile 
up in the daylight. There seemed no reason why these things 
should occupy the space, instead of leaving it empty. His 
friends talked to him : he heard the sounds, and he answered. 
But why there should be the noise of speech he could not 

He was most himself when he was alone, or working hard 
and mechanically at the factory. In the latter case there was 
pure forgetfulness, when he lapsed from consciousness. But it 
had to come to an end. It hurt him so, that things had lost 
their reality. The first snowdrops came. He saw the tiny drop- 
pearls among the grey. They would have given him the liveliest 
emotion at one time. Now they were there, but they did not 
seem to mean anything. In a few moments they would cease 
to occupy that place, and just the space would be, where they 
had been. Tall, brilliant tram-cars ran along the street at night. 
It seemed almost a wonder they should trouble to rustle back- 
wards and forwards. "Why trouble to go tilting down to Trent 
Bridges?" he asked of the big trams. It seemed they just as 
well might not be as be. 

The realest thing was the thick darkness at night. That 
seemed to him whole and comprehensible and restful. He 
could leave himself to it. Suddenly a piece of paper started 
near his feet and blew along down the pavement. He stood 
still, rigid, vdth clenched fists, a flame of agony going over him. 
And he saw again the sick-room, his mother, her eyes. Un- 
consciously he had been with her, in her company. The swift 
hop of the paper reminded him she was gone. But he had been 
with her. He wanted everything to stand still, so that he could 
be with her again. 

The days passed, the weeks. But everything seemed to have 
fused, gone into a conglomerated mass. He could not tell one 
day from anotiier, one week from another, hardly one place 


from another. Nothing was distinct or distinguishable. Often 
he lost himself for an hour at a time, could not remember 
what he had done. 

One evening he came home late to his lodging. The fire was 
burning low; everybody was in bed. He threw on some more 
coal, glanced at the table, and decided he wanted no supper. 
Then he sat down in the arm-chair. It was perfectly still. He 
did not know anything, yet he saw the dim smoke wavering 
up the chimney. Presently two mice came out, cautiously, 
nibbling the fallen crumbs. He watched them as it were from 
a long way off. The church clock struck two. Far away he 
could hear the sharp clinking of the trucks on the railway. No, 
it was not they that were far away. They were there in their 
places. But where was he himself? 

The time passed. The two mice, careering wildly, scampered 
cheekily over his slippers. He had not moved a muscle. He 
did not want to move. He was not thinking of anything. It 
was easier so. There was no wrench of knowing anything. 
Then, from time to time, some other consciousness, working 
mechanically, flashed into sharp phrases. 

"What am I doing?" 

And out of the semi-intoxicated trance came the answer : 

"Destroying myself." 

Then a dull, live feeling, gone in an instant, told him that it 
was wrong. After a while, suddenly came the question: 

"Why wrong?" 

Again there was no answer, but a stroke of hot stubbornness 
inside his chest resisted his own annihilation. 

There was a sound of a heavy cart clanking down the road. 
Suddenly the electric light went out; there was a bruising thud 
in the penny-in-the-slot meter. He did not stir, but sat gazing 
in front of him. Only the mice had scuttled, and the fire glowed 
red in the dark room. 

Then, quite mechanically and more distinctly, the conversa- 
tion began again inside him. 

"She's dead. What was it all for— her struggle?" 

That was his despair wanting to go after her. 

"You're alive." 

"She's not." 

"She is— in you." 

Suddenly he felt tired with the burden of it. 

"You've got to keep alive for her sake," said his will in him. 


Something felt sulky, as if it would not rouse. 

"You've got to carry forward her living, and what she had 
done, go on with it." 

But he did not want to. He wanted to give up. 

"But you can go on with your painting," said the will in 
him. "Or else you can beget children. They both carry on 
her effort." 

"Painting is not living." 

"Then live." 

"Marry whom?" came the sulky question. 

"As best you can. 


But he did not trust that. 

He rose suddenly, went straight to bed. When he got inside 
his bedroom and closed the door, he stood with clenched fist. 

"Mater, my dear " he began, with the whole force of 

his soul. Then he stopped. He would not say it. He would 
not admit that he wanted to die, to have done. He would not 
own that life had beaten him, or that death had beaten him. 
Going straight to bed, he slept at once, abandoning himself to 
the sleep. 

So the weeks went on. Always alone, his soul oscillated, 
first on the side of death, then on the side of life, doggedly. 
The real agony was that he had nowhere to go, nothing to do, 
nothing to say, and was nothing himself. Sometimes he ran 
down the streets as if he were mad: sometimes he was mad; 
things weren't there, things were there. It made him pant. 
Sometimes he stood before the bar of the public-house where 
he called for a drink. Everything suddenly stood back away 
from him. He saw the face of the barmaid, the gabbling 
drinkers, his own glass on the slopped, mahogany board, in 
the distance. There was something between him and them. 
He could not get into touch. He did not want them; he did 
not want his drink. Turning abruptly, he went out. On the 
threshold he stood and looked at the lighted street. But he 
was not of it or in it. Something separated him. Everything 
went on there below those lamps, shut away from him. He 
could not get at them. He felt he couldn't touch the lamp- 
posts, not if he reached. Where could he go? There was 
nowhere to go, neither back into the inn, or forward anywhere. 
He felt stifled. Tliere was nowhere for him. The stress grew 
inside him; he felt he should smash. 


"I mustn't," he said; and, turning blindly, he went in and 
drank. Sometimes the drink did him good; sometimes it made 
him worse. He ran down the road. For ever restless, he went 
here, there, everywhere. He determined to work. But when 
he had made six strokes, he loathed the pencil violently, got 
up, and went away, hurried off to a club where he could play 
cards or billiards, to a place where he could flirt with a bar- 
maid who was no more to him than the brass pump-handle 
she drew. 

He was very thin and lantern-jawed. He dared not meet 
his own eyes in the mirror; he never looked at himself. 
He wanted to get away from himself, but there was nothing 
to get hold of. In despair he thought of Miriam. Perhaps — 
perhaps ? 

Then, happening to go into the Unitarian Church one Sunday 
evening, when they stood up to sing the second hymn he saw 
her before him. The light glistened on her lower lip as she 
sang. She looked as if she had got something, at any rate: 
some hope in heaven, if not in earth. Her comfort and her 
life seemed in the after-world. A warm, strong feeling for her 
came up. She seemed to yearn, as she sang, for the mystery 
and comfort. He put his hope in her. He longed for the sermon 
to be over, to speak to her. 

The throng carried her out just before him. He could nearly 
touch her. She did not know he was there. He saw the brown, 
humble nape of her neck under its black curls. He would leave 
himself to her. She was better and bigger than he. He would 
depend on her. 

She went wandering, in her blind way, through the little 
throngs of people outside the church. She always looked so 
lost and out of place among people. He went forward and put 
his hand on her arm. She started violently. Her great brown 
eyes dilated in fear, then went questioning at the sight of him. 
He shrank slightly from her. 

"I didn't know " she faltered. 

"Nor I," he said. 

He looked away. His sudden, flaring hope sank again. 

"What are you doing in town?" he asked. 

"I'm staying at Cousin Anne's." 

"Ha! For long?" 

"No; only till to-morrow." 

"Must you go straight home?" 


She looked at him, then hid her face under her hat-brim. 

"No," she said — "no; it's not necessary." 

He turned away, and she went with him. They threaded 
through the throng of church people. The organ was still 
sounding in St. Mary's. Dark figures came through the lighted 
doors; people were coming down the steps. The large coloured 
windows glowed up in the night. The church was like a great 
lantern suspended. They went down Hollow Stone, and he took 
the car for the Bridges. 

"You will just have supper with me," he said: "then I'll 
bring you back." 

"Very well," she replied, low and husky. 

They scarcely spoke while they were on the car. The Trent 
ran dark and full under the bridge. Away towards Col wick all 
was black night. He lived down Holme Road, on the naked 
edge of the town, facing across the river meadows towards 
Sneinton Hermitage and the steep scrap of Colwick Wood. 
The floods were out. The silent water and the darkness spread 
away on their left. Almost afraid, they hurried along by the 

Supper was laid. He swung the curtain over the window. 
There was a bowl of freesias and scarlet anemones on the 
table. She bent to them. Still touching them with her finger- 
tips, she looked up at him, saying: 

"Aren't they beautiful?" 

"Yes," he said. "What will you drink— coffee ? " 

"1 should like it," she said. 

"Then excuse me a moment." 

He went out to the kitchen. 

Miriam took off her things and looked round. It was a bare, 
severe room. Her photo, Clara's, Annie's, were on the wall. 
She looked on the drawing-board to see what he was doing. 
There were only a few meaningless lines. She looked to see 
what books he was reading. Evidently just an ordinary novel. 
The letters in the rack she saw were from Annie, Arthur, and 
from some man or other she did not know. Everything he had 
touched, everything that was in the least personal to him, she 
examined with lingering absorption. He had been gone from 
her for so long, she wanted to rediscover him, his position, 
what he was now. But there was not much in the room to 
help her. It only made her feel rather sad, it was so hard and 


She was curiously examining a sketch-book when he returned 
with the coffee. 

"There's nothing new in it," he said, "and nothing very 

He put down the tray, and went to look over her shoulder. 
She turned the pages slowly, intent on examining everything. 

"H'm!" he said, as she paused at a sketch. "I'd forgotten 
that. It's not bad, is it?" 

"No," she said. "I don't quite understand it." 

He took the book from her and went through it. Again he 
made a curious sound of surprise and pleasure. 

"There's some not bad stuff in there," he said. 

"Not at all bad," she answered gravely. 

He felt again her interest in his work. Or was it for him- 
self? Why was she always most interested in him as he 
appeared in his work? 

They sat down to supper. 

"By the way," he said, "didn't I hear something about your 
earning your own living?" 

"Yes," she replied, bowing her dark head over her cup. 

"And what of it?" 

"I'm merely going to the farming college at Broughton for 
three months, and I shall probably be kept on as a teacher 

"I say — that sounds all right for you! You always wanted 
to be independent." 


"Why didn't you tell me?" 

"I only knew last week." 

"But I heard a month ago," he said. 

"Yes; but nothing was settled then." 

"I should have thought," he said, "you'd have told me you 
were trying." 

She ate her food in the deliberate, constrained way, almost 
as if she recoiled a little from doing anything so publicly, that 
he knew so well. 

"I suppose you're glad," he said. 

"Very glad." 

"Yes — it will be something." 

He was rather disappointed. 

""'I think it will be a great deal," she said, almost haughtily, 


He laughed shortly. 

"Why do you think it won't?" she asked. 

"Oh, I don't think it won't be a great deal. Only you'll find 
earning your own living isn't everything." 

"No," she said, swallowing with difficulty; "1 don't suppose 
it is." 

"I suppose work can be nearly everything to a man," he 
said, "though it isn't to me. But a woman only works with a 
part of herself. The real and vital part is covered up." 

"But a man can give all himself to work?" she asked. 

"Yes, practically." 

"And a woman only the unimportant part of herself?" 

"That's it." 

She looked up at him, and her eyes dilated with anger. 

"Then," she said, "if it's true, it's a great shame." 

"It is. But I don't know everything," he answered. 

After supper they drew up to the fire. He swung her a chair 
facing him, and they sat down. She was wearing a dress of dark 
claret colour, that suited her dark complexion and her large 
features. Still, the curls were fine and free, but her face was 
much older, the brown throat much thinner. She seemed old 
to him, older than Clara. Her bloom of youth had quickly gone. 
A sort of stiffness, almost of woodenness, had come upon her. 
She meditated a little while, then looked at him. 

"And how are things with you?" she asked. 

"About all right," he answered. 

She looked at him, waiting. 

"Nay," she said, very low. 

Her brown, nervous hands were clasped over her knee. They 
had still the lack of confidence or repose, the almost hysterical 
look. He winced as he saw them. Then he laughed mirthlessly. 
She put her fingers between her lips. His slim, black, tortured 
body lay quite still in the chair. She suddenly took her finger 
from her mouth and looked at him. 

"And you have broken off with Clara?" 


His body lay like an abandoned thing, strewn in the chair. 

"You know," she said, "I think we ought to be married." 

He opened his eyes for the first time since many months, and 
attended to her with respect, 
r "Why?" he said. 

"See," she said, "how you waste yourself! You might be illl 





you might die, and I never know — be no more then than if I 
had never known you." 

"And if we married?" he asked. 

"At any rate, I could prevent you wasting yourself and being 
a prey to other women — like — like Clara." 

"A prey?" he repeated, smiling. 

She bowed her head in silence. He lay feeling his despair 
come up again. 

"I'm not sure," he said slowly, "that marriage would be 
much good." 

"I only think of you," she replied. 

"I know you do. But — you love me so much, you want to 
put me in your pocket. And I should die there smothered." 

She bent her head, put her fingers between her lips, while 
the bitterness surged up in her heart. 

"And what will you do otherwise?" she asked. 

"I don't know — go on, I suppose. Perhaps I shall soon go 

The despairing doggedness in his tone made her go on her 
knees on the rug before the fire, very near to him. There she 
crouched as if she were crushed by something, and could not 
raise her head. His hands lay quite inert on the arms of his 
chair. She was aware of them. She felt that now he lay at her 
mercy. If she could rise, take him, put her arms round him, and 
say, "You are mine," then he would leave himself to her. But 
dare she? She could easily sacrifice herself. But dare she assert 
herself? She was aware of his dark-clothed, slender body, that 
seemed one stroke of life, sprawled in the chair close to her. 
But no; she dared not put her arms round it, take it up, and 
say, "It is mine, this body. Leave it to me." And she wanted 
to. It called to all her woman's instinct. But she crouched, and 
dared not. She was afraid he would not let her. She was afraid 
it was too much. It lay there, his body, abandoned. She knew 
she ought to take it up and claim it, and claim every right to 
it. But — could she do it? Her impotence before him, before 
the strong demand of some unknown thing in him, was her 
extremity. Her hands fluttered; she half-lifted her head. Her 
eyes, shuddering, appealing, gone almost distracted, pleaded to 
him suddenly. His heart caught with pity. He took her hands, 
drew her to him, and comforted her. 

"Will you have me, to marry me?" he said very low. 

Oh, why did not he take her? Her very soul belonged to him. 


Why would he not take what was his ? She had borne so long 
the cruelty of belonging to him and not being claimed by him. 
Now he was straining her again. It was too much for her. She 
drew back her head, held his face between her hands, and 
looked him in the eyes. No, he was hard. He wanted something 
else. She pleaded to him with all her love not to make it her 
choice. She could not cope with it, with him, she knew 
not with what. But it strained her till she felt she would 

"Do you want it?" she asked, very gravely. 

"Not much," he replied, with pain. 

She turned her face aside; then, raising herself with dignity, 
she took his head to her bosom, and rocked him softly. She 
was not to have him, then ! So she could comfort him. She put 
her fingers through his hair. For her, the anguished sweetness 
of self-sacrifice. For him, the hate and misery of another 
failure. He could not bear it — that breast which was warm and 
which cradled him without taking the burden of him. So much 
he wanted to rest on her that the feint of rest only tortured 
him. He drew away. 

"And without marriage we can do nothing?" he asked. 

His mouth was lifted from his teeth with pain. She put her 
little finger between her lips. 

"No," she said, low and hke the toll of a bell. "No, I think 

It was the end then between them. She could not take him 
and relieve him of the responsibility of himself. She could only 
sacrifice herself to him — sacrifice herself every day, gladly. 
And that he did not want. He wanted her to hold him and 
say, with joy and authority: "Stop all this restlessness and 
beating against death. You are mine for a mate." She had not 
the strength. Or was it a mate she wanted? or did she want a 
Christ in him? 

He felt, in leaving her, he was defrauding her of life. But 
he knew that, in staying, stifling the inner, desperate man, he 
was denying his own life. And he did not hope to give life to 
her by denying his own. 

She sat very quiet. He lit a cigarette. The smoke went up 
from it, wavering. He was thinking of his mother, and had 
forgotten Miriam. She suddenly looked at him. Her bitterness 
came surging up. Her sacrifice, then, was useless. He lay there 
aloof, careless about her. Suddenly she saw again his lack of 


religion, his restless instability. He would destroy himself like 
a perverse child. Well, then, he would! 

"I think I must go," she said softly. 

By her tone he knew she was despising him. Me rose quietly. 

"I'll come along with you," he answered. 

She stood before the mirror pinning on her hat. How bitter, 
how unutterably bitter, it made her that he rejected her sacri- 
fice! Life ahead looked dead, as if the glow were gone out. 
She bowed her face over the flowers — the freesias so sweet and 
spring-like, the scarlet anemones flaunting over the table. It 
was like him to have those flowers. 

He moved about the room with a certain sureness of touch, 
swift and relentless and quiet. She knew she could not cope 
with him. He would escape like a weasel out of her hands. 
Yet without him her life would trail on lifeless. Brooding, she 
touched the flowers. 

"Have them!" he said; and he took them out of the jar, 
dripping as they were, and went quickly into the kitchen. She 
waited for him, took the flowers, and they went out together, 
he talking, she feeling dead. 

She was going from him now. In her misery she leaned 
against him as they sat on the car. He was unresponsive. 
Where would he go? What would be the end of him? She 
could not bear it, the vacant feeling where he should be. He 
was so foolish, so wasteful, never at peace with himself. And 
now where would he go ? And what did he care that he wasted 
her ? He had no religion; it was all for the moment's attraction 
that he cared, nothing else, nothing deeper. Well, she would 
wait and see how it turned out with him. When he had had 
enough he would give in and come to her. 

He shook hands and left her at the door of her cousin's 
house. When he turned away he felt the last hold for him had 
gone. The town, as he sat upon the car, stretched away over 
the bay of railway, a level fume of lights. Beyond the town 
the country, little smouldering spots for more towns — ^the sea 
— the night — on and on ! And he had no place in it ! Whatever 
spot he stood on, there he stood alone. From his breast, from 
his mouth, sprang the endless space, and it was there behind 
him, everywhere. The people hurrying along the streets offered 
no obstruction to the void in which he found himself. They 
were small shadows whose footsteps and voices could be heard, 
but in each of them the same night, the same silence. He got off 


the car. In the country ail was dead still. Little stars shone 
high up; little stars spread far away in the flood-waters, a firma- 
ment below. Everywhere the vastness and terror of the 
immense night which is roused and stirred for a brief while 
by the day, but which returns, and will remain at last eternal, 
holding everything in its silence and its living gloom. There 
was no Time, only Space. Who could say his mother had lived 
and did not live? She had "been in one place, and was in another; 
that was all. And his soul could not leave her, wherever she 
was. Now she was gone abroad into the night, and he was 
with her still. They were together. But yet there was his body, 
his chest, that leaned against the stile, his hands on the wooden 
bar. They seemed something. Where was he? — one tiny up- 
right speck of flesh, less than an ear of wheat lost in the field. 
He could not bear it. On every side the immense dark silence 
seemed pressing him, so tiny a spark, into extinction, and yet, 
almost nothing, he could not be extinct. Night, in which every- 
thing was lost, went reaching out, beyond stars and sun. Stars 
and sun, a few bright grains, went spinning round for terror, 
and holding each other in embrace, there in a darkness that 
outpassed them all, and left them tiny and daunted. So much, 
and himself, infinitesimal, at the core a nothingness, and yet 
not nothing. 

"Mother!" he whispered — "mother!" 

She was the only thing that held him up, himself, amid all 
this. And she was gone, intermingled herself. He wanted her 
to touch him, have him alongside with her. 

But no, he would not give in. Turning sharply, he walked 
towards the city's gold phosphorescence. His fists were shut, 
his mouth set fast. He would not take that direction, to 
the darkness, to follow her. He walked towards the faintly 
humming, glowing town, quickly. 



Sons and Lovers 

With the publication in 1913 of Sons and Lovers, his third 
novel, D. H. Lawrence was established as an important, though 
controversial, writer. Since that time he has been accorded a 
place among the major figures of English literature, and Sons 
and Lovers has become his most popular and, to many critics, 
his most significant work. 

Autobiographical in origin, it is the story of an English coal- 
mining family at the turn of the century and particularly con- 
cerns the coming of age of one son, Paul. The relationships of 
this family group prefigure the famous Lawrence leitmotiv of 
the eternal struggle for sexual power. The dominant, unsatis- 
fied wife and mother and the ineffectual husband and father 
personify this battle; and her unconscious arrogation of the 
children's affection and support, especially as this affects the 
personality of Paul, dramatizes the influences of the unsatis- 
fied, unfulfilled mother on her progeny. 

Few novelists have combined as did Lawrence such rich crea- 
tive gifts with such a penetrating critical intellect. Very much 
a man of his age, he was passionately concerned with the mate- 
rial conditions and emotions that characterize contemporary 
life. He deals artistically with them, however, in the command- 
ing prose of a prophet-poet, and is, as Aldous Huxley said, 
"always intensely aware of the mystery of the world ... a clever 
man as well as a man of genius." 

Cover design by Jeanyee Wong